A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – Religion

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now . . .


Religion on modern Telvaren and it’s colonies is a practical affair due to the simple matter that aeons of worship, theology, magic, science, and a few confused holy wars and philosophical battles have led to religion becoming an organized, well-understood part of culture.  It’s there, it has its purpose, and if you want to actually read up on it there’s extensive books, theses, and scientific papers that can bore you into knowledge.

At it’s core, religion essentially accepts that the gods are real (which is easy when they tell you they are) and that humanity and they benefit from the interaction.  There’s several hundred gods at last count so there’s plenty of gods to interact with, though they’re not always on the same side, or in agreement, or understandable.  But in the end, religion provides mutual benefit, as found by aeons of work and a few centuries of recovering from the devastating event simply called The War.


Gods predate humanity.  They are conceptual creatures, a face on the abstract forces and powers of the world and of life itself.  The variable nature of reality, often called magic, seems to play a role in this, but the simplest way people are taught to think about it is that life can evolve from anything – even abstract concepts or non-living natural forces.

The gods are the masks the world puts on, life that evolves “over” the abstract.

The evolution of humanity, of thinking creatures able to conceive and dream, and conceptualize was a boon for the gods.  Human minds and emotions manifested the abstract forces of life and thought more than anything else; their ideas and thoughts enriched the lives of the gods and helped them grow and become more aware.  Metaphorically (and to an extent, accurately), humanity is the environment gods live in; creatures of life and death, industry and war, thought and art.

It’s considered by many Evolutionary Theologians to be similar to how dogs and humans affected each other’s evolution, though no one is sure who’s the dog and who’s the human in the relationship.  The Sixth Sage is noted as saying the dogs probably got insulted by this comparison, which is a very popular saying among dog owners and seen on many t-shirts by people thinking they’re witty.

Gods and Humans co-evolved, with the humans providing a rich environment for the gods, and the gods happily lending their power and insights to people.  Out of this evolved worship and rituals and holidays to keep gods and humans in sync.

It is said that gods could indeed exist without humanity, and all evidence indicates this is true.  But their lives would be like living in an arid desert; you can live, but that’s all you can do.  The War is said to have terrified the gods and helped re-shape their relationships with humans and each other.


Religious practices are viewed practically, but they also vary extremely with god, families, neighborhoods, and regions – gods and humans tend to take different views of “what works.”  Usually this is close to, but not always the same, and when you throw a few hundred gods into the mix it’s confusing.

There are enormous efforts, especially post-Reformation, to ensure organized religion is even more organized.  This sometimes actually works, but it also means there are endless meetings and sessions and attempts to codify works.  There are always newly discovered holy text that may seem revolutionary to humans, but to a god are just something they “wrote down” and they didn’t think of the culture-changing impact.  The great Theopolis of Triad True is constantly abuzz with work, and boasts a bureaucracy that would make even the great historical mages of Phoenix Ascendant jealous – albeit jealous in an organized manner.

Among all this attempt to codify everything from clerical titles (which are known to change every few years) to agreements with the gods, the front line of human-god relations are clerics.


“Cleric” is the catch-all term for a person who is in contact with a specific god, voluntarily, and has an ongoing relationship with them.  A Cleric is officially recognized by their god and their Church (or Temple, or whatever title) as being a direct line to the god in question.

Clerics provide advice from holy texts and occasionally the gods themselves.  They provide prophecy from the gods – which has only increased as Network usage has expanded and the gods took to email centuries ago.  They also provide blessings, channeling some of a gods power to the faithful.

However, Clerics also provide a service to the gods in that they are their connection to humans.  Clerics help the gods understand humanity and stay in touch with the world.  This part of the relationship is not always understood by other humans.

Clerics often have a variety of powers granted them by the god, sometimes without the god actually thinking much about it.  These are classified as:

  • Aspect: Almost all Clerics develop a talent or ability that reflects the sphere of their god.  A Cleric of the goddess of war may have supernatural tactical sense, a Cleric of the god of scheduling may have precognition, and so on.  These Aspects usually have to be called upon consciously, and though in theory unlimited, some “turn off” at odd moments if a cleric strays too far from their god’s plans.
  • Glamour: Though Clerics hate this title, most Clerics have the ability to inspire people with certain emotions related to their gods – sometimes without thinking.  It is called “Inspiration” by most Clerics, but popular opinion has left them stuck with “Glamour.”
  • Exorcism: All Clerics in theory can release some of their gods raw power to disrupt demons, malicious spirits and ghosts, and other anomolies.  Few actually use it – it’s basically the spiritual equivalent of putting a lighter in front of hairspray, turning a utility into a weapon.

Many modern clerics organize in Theocades, great multi-religious structures that can have temples, rooms, and the like reshuffled.  They also act as housing and community centers.

Shamans And Spirits

Shamans and spirits are sometimes classified as part of religion, sometimes not – and there’s been a concerted and not entirely well-meaning effort to exclude them from being considered religious professionals entirely.  This is an area of theological politics that many humans and most gods don’t like as well as don’t care about.

“Spirits” are not gods, though some have been mistaken for them and some gods employ them.  Spirits are the results of human interaction with objects, places, and ideas that, over time, shapes the magical forces of that object, place, and idea until it achieves consciousness.  Roads, vehicles, buildings, famous objects all can have spirits.

Spirits are conscious but erratic and unpredictable magical beings with a variety of powers and abilities.  They can easily be appeased and interacted with in assorted ways – conversation, attention, sacrifice of blood, food, and alcohol, and so on.  In times as spirits mature they become more powerful and more human.

Shamans are those that interact with spirits and have extensive knowledge of them.  Shamans and Clerics used to be the same profession for all intends and purposes, but over the last few centuries there’s been a noteable split as religion became more organized.  Now the two are on their way to being specialist professions, and there is conflict over this, especially as Clerics wield more political and social power – and as people learn more and more about interacting with supernatural creatures in school.

All of the Great Cities have a City Shamanic Department to deal with the spirits in a city.

Triad True

Triad True is a great Theopolis, and arguably a Great City younger than Highpoint if you want to argue what constitutes a Great City, which many people do just to be spiteful.  Located in the southern part of the Central Region, it has gone from a mix of temples and hastily-assembled seminaries to a gigantic metropolis in only three centuries.  Many clerics do some or all of their training there, great libraries and reliquaries abound, museums display history, and some great publishing concerns operate.

Beyond theological and educational business, Triad True is also a popular vacation spot with beautiful areas to visit, relaxing parks, and more.  Needless to say this additional financial influx is quite popular.

There is some unspoken issues involving the Bridges that connect works – Triad True much to people’s surprise does not have a permanent Bridge schedule with Godsrest.  Why is not entirely understood, and its suggested economics and politics plays more of an issue, though superstition may as well.


– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Technology

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.


The humans of the worlds of Avenoth find the division between Technology and magic to be very clear.  This is probably why some people talk about it too much.

Magic is defined as that requiring direct human involvement to exist, calling upon the magic in the world.  Items created using magic (enchantment or alchemy) are also considered magical if they rely on magical sources or power or magic to channel power.

Technology is defined as that which does not require a human to invoke and rely on the magic in the world or magic to power an item.  If magic doesn’t touch it it’s probably technology.

Of course, this area leads to assorted debates.  Is piece of equipment incorporating an enchanted component magic (most say no).  Is something manufactued via magic as many things are magical (most say no).  Does it mess up other enchantments or screw up hard-cast spells (it better not).

Thus the debates continue, though the larger population probably doesn’t care, and wishes the debates would slow down.

Magic and Technology are unavoidably intertwined.  Much technology originated by scholars studying items created or altered by magic.  Technology has helped created testing devices and training tools for magic.  Enchanted components are common in exotic technologies – or in some cases cheaper.

The supposed separation remains an area of debate.

The Involvement Of Magic And Manufacturing

Magic has been involved in manufacturing for centuries or perhaps aeons.  Trained mages can easily shape stone or metal, lift objects, and stoke fires.  There are mages and magical practices that focus only on practical applications – mages that do this often practice only a single element, and are often called “Fab mages.”

Over time, manufacturing has become more and more automated and less and less magical.  Science has figured out how to duplicate magical creations – without the issues of creating enchantments sensitive mages may feel.  This has accelerated in the last century or two, and is producing disruptions in both the manufacturing and magical communities.

Magic is still very prominent in construction, where Lithomancers shape and mold stone and stone derivatives like concrete.  They can very quickly raise buildings with the help of others.  Such shaped stone is called magestone.  The guild Crimson Cornerstone is the largest Guild of construction mages.

More exotic technologies may use enchanted or specialized mage-manufactured components, such as unusual weapons or special slate components.

Common Technologies

Aerobarges – Extremely large Flyers relying on anti-gravity technology – large, aerial platforms akin to ships of the air.  They are slower than Flyers, but their stability, safety, capacity for cargo, and ability to offer a less confined experience.

Autocoaches – Powered vehicles for transport – what we would call cars, trucks, and buses.  The term is used for  any powered human transport, but terms like “bus” or “hauler” may also be used.

Bridges – Bridges are teleporation devices used to travel between planets, large platforms powered by techno-magical creations to instantly send people and cargo between worlds.  This requires two Bridges to syncronize – and between orbits, timing, breakdowns, and planetary rotations, schedules can be notoriously unreliable or strange.  Bridges are run by an organization called The Bridgers, a non-religious but very philosophical organization that takes their job as serious as any creed.

Clackers – Flashminds bonded to mechanical bodies, usually used in combat during the War and at times for executions.  Clackers are, like AI, forbidden technology.  As many were designed for hardships, however, they can last for centuries – and recovering them is a sure insight into past technologies if one doesn’t accidentally reactivate one . . .

Flashminds – Artificial intelligence, often ones made by magically copying a human mind. All AI is forbidden on Telvaren due to past experiences and disasters.  Attempting to use or create them is met with stiff penalties – often fatal (if unproveably fatal)

Flyers – Aerial transport devices – what we would consider airplanes.  Many use anti-gravity technology for takeoffs, landings, and stabilizing the passenger.

Slates – Slates are portable, flat screen devices used to access the Network.  They are used most commonly for email, video calls, and research.  They are similar to cell phones and tablets in our world.

The Network – The Network is a world(s) spanning communication tool for transmission of information.  It had existed in several incarnations, and is now on version 3 – the former versions having fallen to magical problems and strange technical problems like Flashminds.  It is usually used for email, video calls, and visiting “sites” of information.  It’s obviously similar to the internet, though the heavy need for security and caution over technology mean it tends to be used more practically and cautiously.

Variable Weapon – A term for customized weaponry, often weaponry that transforms between multiple states, at times in ways that seem to violate the laws of physics.  This functionality is due to magical components that many contain – or components based upon magically created templates.  Variable weapons are carried by technics, members of Warrior Lodges, and some military specialists – but are looked down on as flashy and hard to maintain by many Constables and members of the Military.


The god of technology and engineers is Xomanthu, who is the arguable head of a large gaggle of gods and goddesses involved in the spheres of technology.  He is not the oldest of the gods, but seems to be the most forward thinking and social of his company of deities.  He’s usally portrayed as male or gender-ambiguous, with multiple arms – “Xomanthu’s many hands” is a common invocation, oath, or curse.  Xomanthu likes to be involved in people’s lives, though at times his involvement can be complicating.

– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Magic

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.


Magic has three definitions to the humans whose worlds orbit the star Avenoth:

  1. Magic is the potential for a person or being to alter beyond its nature and/or the liklihood of probability.
  2. The alteration of something by a person whose mind is able to, via various disciplines, call upon the potential in themselves or a target to alter it’s nature and/or bring about an otherwise improbably event.
  3. The results of the alteration in #2.

When mages don’t want to mess around with semantics they usually put it simply “people can both instinctively and in practice change reality because people and reality are malleable.”  However, as magic is common (and indeed, everyday), most of humanity gives it little thought.

Reality has the potential to be altered, it is alive with probabilities.  Humans have over the aeons developed disciplines to allow them to use their own mental effort to “align” with new potentials and bring them about.  This is akin to a conversation, a dialogue where reality is rewritten, though in modern magic it happens extremely quickly.

It is akin to a dialogue as this change is created by visualizing various symbols in one’s mind that align a person’s mind with the potential in reality.  These symbols and methods have been hard-won over the ages, crafted and improved to create the most efficient ways to invoke magic, and to do so in the most efficient and least painful way possible.  Combined with practiced meditations, the understanding of other relevant sciences such as chemistry and physics, and guiding physical actions, mages can create powerful changes in their environment.

There are still disciplines and individuals that require such things as magical circles, runes, and diagrams created to help visualization.  These may be used by less practiced mages, but also by those who have to invoke complex forces such as Necromancers or those creating powerful warding magics.  Sometimes having a map is just easier.

Many mages discover an aptitude for magic without training, and there are some disciplines (such as Shadowing and Divination) that develop instinctively during a person’s life and experiences.  A surprisingly large amount of people do low-level magic instinctively with no training or detection, such as luck manipulation.

Modern mages tend to train in specific disciplines and elements, such as manipulating stone or calling upon fire.  Specializing in a few forms of magic means they learn quicker as similar lessons play into each other – to try and manipulate many elements or forms over time requires extensive learning and practice, as well as unpleasant potential accidents.  The more elements or forms one can master, the higher ranked a mage is considered by their various Guilds and organizations, though certain complex specializations (Necromancy, Illusionism, and some forms of Divination) have their own ranking systems.

Magic is taught in large schools and universities, and is carefully regulated because of it’s nature.  A mage, as respected as they are, as much as they are a part of society, is powerful – and with all the unpredictability of a human.  Responsibility is emphasized by schools, parents, clerics, and society.

All mages are required to either join one of the many Guilds (which provide services and employment) or register with appropriate Universities in whatever Great City they live in (which is very rare).  All mages must wear Guild colors and badges or logos at all times to identify themselves, no matter how poor the Guild’s fashion sense is.  This policy, enforced over the centuries, goes virtually unquestioned – and has helped people trust mages.

The god of magic is Ivonau, The Spellshaper, The Eye of Magic.  Ivonau is a thoughtful god who focuses on knowledge, education, responsibility.  A bit of a “wet blanket” among the gods, Ivonau isn’t exactly exciting at parties, though occasionally they get off on a tear or an odd experiment or impart some new idea to a sorcerer that is world-shaking (and probably the other gods would have wanted to know).  Ivonau as of the 250’s has decided it’s time for them to “rethink” this whole god of magic thing and has been conducting research and polling.


– Steve