7x7 profiles: the denizens Picture

When I first started creating my Vistallah setting, I didn't have any sort of plan in mind. I simply needed something neat to draw, and wanted some sort of backstory for it all. As I came up with new things to draw, I added new concepts to the setting, and the world was slowly cobbled together. But the bigger the setting got, the more I felt it needed some structure. Some unifying theme that would make it something more than just a random patchwork of ideas...

And now I've come up with that theme! And I think its a clever theme. Its not perfect--in large part because I'm trying to shoe-horn previously existing ideas into a structure they weren't designed for--but I think it will suit my purposes. It will give some structure to the setting, it will put an upper limit on the number of creatures in the setting, and it gives me a great excuse to do profiles for everything in the setting, all in one place!

So here's the theme: 7x7. There shall be 7 categories of creations in Vistallah. And in each category, there shall be 7 entries. For a total of 49 sentient, non-inherantly-evil creations.
There shall be 7 Real Species.
There shall be 7 Half Species.
There shall be 7 Covenant Races.
There shall be 7 Shape Shifters.
There shall be 7 Denizens.
There shall be 7 Gods.
And there shall be 7 Goddesses.

Now, lets finish off the corporal species with the 7 Denizens:

The Seven Denizens
The last batch of creations are the denizens. These are spontaneously-generating creatures that are formed when magic coalesces around some sort of core out in the wild. Most often, the 'core' is some sort of artifact or bit of treasure that attracts and draws magic from the surrounding environment. When enough magic is gathered, it will begin to take a definite form, eventually becoming a mature and fully aware creature. The type of creature will depend on the type of artifact it forms around, and upon the environment that it forms in.

However, the magical core of a Denizen presents unique challenges to them. If their core reacts with outside magic, the Denizen may become tied to that other magic. She may become bound in place, or her will may be tied to the will of another. Sometimes this happens because someone seeks out a Denizen and imposes limitations upon them, and sometimes Denizens are born with the conditions already in place. It all depends...

Guardienne--The Warrior
Guardiennes--as their name implies--were created to be guardians of places of importance. Of shrines to the gods, of graves of heroes, of monuments... Places that should forever me remembered and respected...But are sometimes forgotten. Guardiennes exist to protect and preserve such hallowed places, even as they are forgotten by the rest of the world. When such a site sits undisturbed for long enough, magic may begin to gather in it, and a Guardienne may eventually be formed.

The Guardienne is the creation of Tyvan--The Warrior. She invariably takes the form of a beautiful woman--since hollowed sites deserve only the most beautiful of keepers-- though she is also imposing and serious looking, and is dressed only in black. She often carries a mace as a symbol of her stewardship. And as a symbol of her devotion and single-mindedness, she is quite literally chained to her post. Breaking the chain will kill the Guardienne, as her home is her life.

Although Guardiennes were created to have a purpose, they don't necessarily know that purpose. Nor is it always obvious to them why their home is so important. Still, all have an instinctive drive to protect their home, no matter its condition. And while Guardiennes are thus instinctively wary of outsiders, they are not unreasoningly unwelcoming. A guest who is respectful of the sanctity of the site may earn the friendship of the Guardienne. And like all magical creations of Vistallah, Guardiennes still have social desires to be fulfilled...

Sphinx--The Priestess (Or The Princess)
(The Sphinx is well established in the setting, but its patron is still in flux. Right now, I'm saying the patron goddess is the Priestess. But I may change that to the Princess. It all depends on one of the open spots elsewhere in the 7x7 matrix. That open spot will go to one of these two, and the other will get the Sphinx. The Sphinx will operate pretty much the same way with either patron, but the open spot would be radically differnent depending on which patron it goes to. So, once I hammer out which direction I want to take that creation, this entry may (or may not) get slightly altered.)

As the Guardienne is a tribute to the greatness of days gone by, so the Sphinx is a tribute to the glory of the present! Sphinxes are generated in the shadow of greatness. They form at the edges of cities, at the base of monuments, and anywhere where there is transcendent glory being aspired to. The magic they are born from is drawn from the workers who toil for the greater glory, and from all those who come to pay tribute to the glory. And when a Sphinx is created, she is the embodiment of that glory. She will obey those who command it, and will watch over and protect those who serve it.

The Sphinx is the creation of Minnette--the Priestess--and have an appropriately reverent attitude. Sphinxes have an innate sense of separateness from the masses. This doesn't mean they despise or mistreat commoners, only that Sphinxes merely treat them...as commoners. Sphinxes do give special treatment to royalty, and other powerful individuals, but only if they behave in a way that is worthy of respect. Sphinxes do not necessarily have a strong sense of 'right and wrong', but rather an innate understanding of what is proper and what is not. And while a Sphinx will not and can not rebel against the system that she was created under, she can abandon a system that no longer shares her original aspirations, and will transfer her loyalty to anyone who does share those aspirations.

Everything written above applies to what is known as an Imperial Sphinx, which is also what is illustrated in this profile. However, there is also a second variety of Sphinx, known as the Feral Sphinx. This variant is much more animalistic, having only the head of a woman, instead of the complete torso. The Feral Sphinx is a perversion, appearing not in the shadow of glory, but rather in the shadow of deliberate chaos and terror--such as when bandits masquerade as lords and pillage the land for their own benefit. Thus, Feral Sphinxes serve the opposite purpose of Imperial Sphinxes--they do not protect the people and rulers to enforce the status-quot, they attack the people and would-be rulers in an effort to overthrow the status-quot. Their hope is that when the bandits are driven away, legitimate rulers will take their place, and a worthy society will develop. To facilitate this, Feral Sphinxes will become less aggressive as the land around them becomes less chaotic. Eventually, they may become truly domestic, though they will still keep their feral looks...

Myxogal--The Hag
The Myxogal is the slime girl of Vistallah. A collection of living goop that naturally assumes the form of a woman. However, this woman form is only apparent when the Myxogal is 'standing' on the surface. Myxogals spend most of their time below the surface slowly oozing through porous soil. They search for moisture, magic, and food, or just amusing themselves by wandering around. It can be slow going, but underground, there is no one else who can bother them.

Myxogals are fairly unique in that their form is variable. Obviously, as a living liquid, they have some 'shapeshifting' ability and can alter their appearance. But, in the long term, they also alter their size. The actual volume of a Myxogal can vary, depending on the conditions in which she is living. If she finds a moist environment with abundant food/magic to sustain her, she can expand in volume. Conversely, if sustenance is sparse she will contract in volume. And, naturally, the volume of a Myxogal's slime will directly affect the size of the woman she can form into.

Myxogals are the creation of Countuss--The Hag--and are an embodiment of...Ickyness. However, while Countuss may be the patron of people living in filth, that doesn't mean she wallows in it. Quite the contarary, Countuss would love to see people move out filth! That won't or can't always happen, but it is something to be aspired to. And the Myxogals share their patron's spirit. While they may be trapped in a body of slime, they find the surface world....Alluring. Dangerous and scary, but still alluring. Especially the men of the surface world. Thus, a Myxogal at the surface will do her best to present herself in the most disarming and flattering way possible...

Sashi--The Artisan
The Sashi is a fire elemental. Her continued existence is tied to two things: an artifact that houses her soul, and an active flame that gives her strength. These must exist in close proximity to each other for the Sashi to survive. If the flame goes out, or if the artifact is taken out of range, the Sashi's body will dissolve and her soul will go dormant in the artifact. This isn't lethal, though if she remains 'dormant' too long a Sashi may...become different from who she once was.

Despite being a fire elelmental, Sashi's do not burn everything they touch. Not automatically, anyways. They can burn things if they choose to--and if the flame the powers them is strong enough. But ordinarilly, they are simply warm to the touch.

Being an elemental imposes unique liabilities on a Sashi. Of course, she can only live near active flames. And the behavior of the flame directly affect the Sashi. If the flame burns hot, so will the Sashi (In the emotional sense) If the flame is steady, her attitude will follow. And if the flame is large and out of control, than she will be the same. Because of these variables, Sashi's find it nearly impossible to tend their own fire, and rely on other--not elemental--people to do it for them. Generally speaking, a standard cooking fire is more than enough to keep a Sashi healthy and contented...

Sashi's are also limited by the artifact that holds their soul. Whomever holds the artifact directs the will of the Sashi. And, generally, the Sashi herself is happy with this. Unless her flame is out out of control, she will not only not resist her 'master,' but will actively seek his/her approval.

Sashi's are the creation of Emallie--the Artisan--and are designed to be as useful as possible. And, as such, are one of the more successful creations of the Vistallahn deities. Fires are always needed, by a wide variety of people, so Sashis are easy to keep. They're easy to control--most of the time--and have the potential to be very useful. For constructive purposes...and, sadly, sometimes for destructive purposes, as well...

Caryatid--The Builder
The Caryatid is the creation of Guiyan--the Builder. In the days of old--when Guiyan and the rest of the deities walked openly through the world--the god of building decided to give life to buildings. Thus were born the Caryatids. Great stone columns, which had often been carved into the decorative form beautiful women, became real women! Who would take care of their building, and welcome guests in ways that women do best....

Though made of stone, Caryatids warm and soft, just like real people. (Its magic!) Being stone, they neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep or grow weary. Though they are still prone to social desires... The personality of a Caryatid is shaped--one might say carved--by her surroundings. It matches perfectly the building (or place) where she was formed, and leaves her forever content with her lot in life. No matter the situation, Caryatids have no desire to leave their home, unless directed to by someone whom they perceive as having authority over her home.

Of course, that was how Caryatids were designed to work in the days of old. But after the Cataclysm, Vistallah was...different. The gods no longer take such an active roll in the world, and their creations have become...more wild. As such, while many Caryatids are still formed as part of buildings, many of them spontaneously generate out of rock formations out in the wilderness. While still generally friendly, these particular Caryatids are more...assertive...than their domestic-born counterparts.

Therize--The Farmer
The Therize: The scythe woman! I giantess whose nails are, in fact, exaggerated metal claws. A truly impressive sight.....That doesn't really lend itself to the setting. Sure the idea sounds cool. And it makes for an iconic image. ...Sort of... But the longer one thinks about it, the harder it becomes to take the creature seriously. How does she live, day by day? How does she operate with nails that excessive? I really don't know...

...Not sure of her role either. I sort of makes sense for her to live as her own master and impose her will upon others, but that makes the day-to-day issues that much stranger...

The Therize is another of those ideas that I came up with in isolation, and am now struggling to shoehorn into the new organization of the setting. Well, until I come up with a better way to explain them--or until I replace them entirely--I'll just say that the Therize is the creation of Shole--The Farmer--and is typically born in fields where battles were once fought. Her claws are the discarded metal from those battles, and like a farmer's implements, they are both tool and weapon, used for whatever the situation calls for at the time.

Troll--The Brawler
Man, I really wrote myself into a corner this time. I need a guy for this spot, and I've already established Trolls as a part of Vistallah....But as an unpleasant part. And I'm trying to move all the 'evil' creatures into their own 3x3 matrix. Everything in this 7x7 matrix is supposed to be...if not inherently good, than at least created with good intentions. I'm not sure I can can justify a 'Troll' being created out of 'good intentions.' Besides, the one drawing I did of a Troll portrayed them as a sort of shape-shifting mud, and I'm not sure that really fits. And a giant guy that aggressively flirts with helpless peasant girls seems much less charming than the usual giant women who aggressively flirt with helpless guys. Frankly, a Troll that would act that way seems downright creepy.

...I dunno. In the future, I may replace these guys with Ushabti, the miniature workers from Egyptian mythology...

But, until I make that decision for sure, Trolls are the creation of Brok--the Brawler. Because, well, they're naturally aggressive. And maybe tall, dark, and handsome. The embodiment of the 'bad bay.' Obviously dangerous, but still somehow alluring. I guess...
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7x7 profiles:  the denizens
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