Near- and Middle- Eastern/Persian Centric Urban Fantasy

  • In the Kinds of Mu*s Wanted thread, I threw out a want for a less Euro-Centric modern urban fantasy game. And in boredom, with a few good hours of time yesterday and this morning, between RL and Mu*'ing, I threw together a simplistic overview of such a different approach. This is combined from sources of near to middle east, as far as India, but nothing beyond (combinations of cultures along this side of the Spice Road), most heavily influenced from some Persian ideas and mythos.


    The world exists in a Zoroaster System (not Zoroastrianism): There is a good realm, Paradise, beyond what humans know. There is an evil realm as well, Perdition. The totality of marks, good or bad, eventually lets one enter either realm. Reincarnation exists in the moral world and there is a tally on an individual that occurs throughout lifetimes until one achieves the appropriate tally to enter either realm. Various entities from both Perdition and Paradise work to influence the neutral parties in either way. These spirits are at a level of being that their acts are only judged by the influence they have on others. Should one follow the path of truth or good, they can cross the threshold of Paradise upon death of their current incarnation. Similarly should the weight of sin be heavy on one’s tally, they will transcend to Perdition when their current incarnation expires.


    All magic comes from Jan, a mystical energy or force in the universe. Only certain beings can gain access to the utilization of Jan naturally, others must learn this, and the effectiveness of the utilization of Jan is based on their tally. Each tally is returned to those that access the Jan in either the form of Kheyr or Meshki. Each is used to influence and shape magic. Kheyr is good or white, Meshki is evil or black. Using these is equivalent to deeds and influences, readily weighing on one's tally simply by making use of this mystical energy regardless of the deed being performed (using Meshki for good is still an evil act, etc.).

    Spirits of the Kheyr

    Agents of good work to influence the neutral parties. Because they ultimately attempt to inspire good in others, they tend towards the Kheyr. They are innate users of Jan.

    1. The Narah

    These are agents of good associated with Paradise. The lowest of beings from this higher realm, then can access the world of mortals for limited times, and tend to influence the Peri to continue their works of inspiring good in the world.

    1. The Peri

    The peri, a supernatural like race, are between ‘angels and man’. They are the final step in this realm before one transcends to the beyond of Paradise. They can part the veil, enough to communicate with the angels of Paradise to known the will of Good that they may continue their work to influence Human and Janni alike. As they inspire others, they receive a tally to access the Jan.

    1. Ghul

    This is a specific Peri that has fallen from grace through the use of Meshki, this makes it much more difficult for them to gain further access to the Jan without tacking directly from other spirits, both free willed spirits as well as good/bad spirits. A sort of cannibalism, taking Jan from others also affects the vitae of the others. A ghul can kill another if too much Meshki is pulled from another. A ghul can draw Kheyr, but it's sometimes painful for the ghul and they prefer the much easier path they have fallen on. They tend to trick others into doing bad.

    Meshki Spirits

    Those agents of evil, either purposefully acting to lure the free willed spirits of the world to Perdition, or simply out of self interest. Due to the nature of how the work to influence others, they are mostly associated with the Meshki. They are as well innate users of Jan.

    1. Deev

    The Deev are free spirits that started as Daikini, but have instead turned to using Kheyr. Inspiring the free willed spirits to do good rather than feeding off the bad they so readily commit, the Deev have actively chosen to follow a new path. While some tend towards Meshki from time to time, it is far less harmful than the Daikini, and these are seen as more impish playfulness.

    1. Daikini

    The Daikini are a supernatural race bent on taking what it can from the free willed spirits and often serve as agents of the Shaytan and Perdition. They truly wish to enter Perdition for themselves and will tempt, persuade, and otherwise force the free willed towards acts of evil simply to gain a better tally. Willfully using Meshki to achieve their wants and desires.

    1. Shaytan

    The lowest of form of the beings of Perdition, they are tasked by other more harmful entities with interceding in the mortal realm on their behalf and, like the Narah, can can access into the mortal realm for limited amounts of time.

    Free Willed Spirits

    Unlike the spirits of the Kheyr or Meshki, these are beings that long ago were given free will, they are the mortals of earth. Two such were created, Humans and Janni. Janni were given innate access to the Jan while Humans have learned to access the mystical energies. Whether some cosmic experiment, or the will of some higher being to gain influence is beyond the knowledge of the mortal realm.

    1. Humans

    The majority of mortals are human, as we know them. There is little difference. Some do learn to access the Jan, they are known as Magi.

    1. Janni

    Very similar to humans, the Janni are innately tied to the Jan. Unlike the spirits of Kheyr or Meshki, they simply gain abilities based on how they act daily and their tallies of good or evil.

    Human Magic

    What magic there is stems from the mystical energy of Jan. What one can do with this Jan is based on the tally of Kheyr or Meshki that is weighted to them and their inevitable transcendance. This is measured by the deeds of beings in the world of free spirits, or by the influence of the free spirits by those associated directly with the realms of Paradise or Perdition.

    1. Magi

    Magi are humans that have learned to access the Jan. This is a learned tradition and must be studied through tomes and books. There are two such types of books. One is a combination of divination and astrology for determining potential outcomes and how they may be influenced (divination/astrology/etc.). The others is a determination of taking information from an individual and using that to gain power over others, from changing luck and fortune to what we would call ‘spells’ in a more traditional sense (direct healing, direct harm, super human feats, flying, teleporting, etc.).

    Magi Organizations

    1. The Efrite

    Simply, sorceress/sorcerer. They see Jan as a tool, and the use of such is left to the hands of the user of Jan. Thus they will teach the tradition to others, allowing access to the knowledge to the brightest, those who show potential. There is simply one rule amongst them, Jan is not to be used adversely against other Humans without righteous cause. Will the use of magic against Janni is viewed negatively, it is not completely discouraged and, in some causes, can be warranted; such as Janni that prey upon humans for their own means.

    1. The Sehr

    The Sehr are an ivory tower of the Magi. Their utlimate goal is to know and weigh the measure of their own tallies. Not to gain access to either Paradise or Perdition, but instead to remain on the world of mortals through each life, returning as a human each time and continuing their traditions. The are keen guardians of knowledge and magic. Those who seek to join them are tested rigorously, and those who fail die.

    1. The Immortals

    The Immortals are those who know of Jan and the spirits of the Jan, the Magi and Magi organizations, but seek to end their meddling in the affairs of humans, good or bad. They do not access the Jan directly but do tend to utilize artifacts and items which allow them to access or interfere with spirits. Akin to monster hunters.

    ... Humans most touched on, but the wordly spirits can have organization and structure added to them just the same (looking at peri, ghuls, deev, and daikini). Where Narah and Shaytan can be viewed as entities and forces of influence (semi-deity like). Lots to play with, just basic building blocks that doesn't read like every other new breed of urban fantasy that just comes off like another version of WoD, but trying to avoid the politics and such associated with WoD.

  • Pitcrew

    Al-Qadim like? I'd play!

  • Very neat write-up. Not much to add except that I'd play something like this if it existed (time and eventual execution permitting, of course).

  • Throwing my two cents in... Time willing, I'd love to play/give it a shot =)

  • Pitcrew

    This makes me want to bust out the Shahnameh again, holy shit.

  • Tutorialist

    While for the most part this looks cool, there's a line in here I think is gonna trip things up:

    Kheyr is good or white, Meshki is evil or black. Using these is equivalent to deeds and influences, readily weighing on one's tally simply by making use of this mystical energy regardless of the deed being performed (using Meshki for good is still an evil act, etc.).

    By this logic, then using Kheyr for evil is still a 'good' act, because it's all good power, etc.

    See how that road darkens the further you look down it?

    But I'd play something like this, for sure.

  • Pitcrew

    This sounds awesome, shame I don't know anything about middle-easter or Persian history or lore....

  • This does sound pretty awesome, I remember playing a character from a Zoroastrian mythology world on an Amber game years ago and it was a wealth of cool stuff that people are not normally very familiar with.

  • Exactly, very similar to Al Qadim, same influence @deadculture. You may not be familiar, @DnvnQuinn, but then, some is more familiar then folks may realize. One could argue the ghul as influence for western vampire, and through D&D and subsequent RPGs we are familiar with the ghoul and some monsters.

    Agreed @Packrat, its a wealth of things people aren't necessarily familiar with, but there is enough similarity (borrowing of concepts) its not entirely alien. Its the sort of differences I always hope for when someone says our place is modern urban fantasy but its not WoD and in the end, its very euro-centric and pretty darn close to WoD (which is hard to get away from if its really western based urban fantasy because they borrowed from lots of western sources).

  • @Derp said in Near- and Middle- Eastern/Persian Centric Urban Fantasy:

    Kheyr is good or white, Meshki is evil or black. Using these is equivalent to deeds and influences, readily weighing on one's tally simply by making use of this mystical energy regardless of the deed being performed (using Meshki for good is still an evil act, etc.).

    By this logic, then using Kheyr for evil is still a 'good' act, because it's all good power, etc.

    See how that road darkens the further you look down it?

    But I'd play something like this, for sure.

    Precisely! Or close, how dark does it get down that roadt? Using magic is an individual tally separate from the act. Using Kheyr adds a tally of 'good' to the soul, but the evil act is still evil; its equivalent to an act, not a replacement for the deed itself. This is really the moral dilemma I think folks are after in the 'gray hat' area of play, doing evil to accomplish good, or vice versa. Other games imply a playable gray area, but really mean there is no consequences to truly make it a decision of weight (doing the evil deed for the greater good), really more do what thou wilt.

    And there is the play of humans tired of this whole dilemma, the Immortals in the above thrown together potential theme would be faced with, the use of Kheyr doesn't matter, the monster/mage/spirit/etc still did some evil dead and to them must pay for it.

    Further still, the better part of this is that it absolutely plays into that constant near/middle east trope - The Genie Wager. Two spirits (genies) make a wager on the outcome of the decisions a mortal will make based on various influences they put into it, usually the evil one interferes more directly, while the good one has given the individual some good fortune previously and has studied the mortal in greater detail. Most of us are familiar with the concept through Shakespeare and Taming of the Shrew (or the movie 10 Things I Hate About You). I'll have to look later there is a great modern take on this from about 10 years ago that really plays into the gray area of decision making by the mortals involved, one ends up killing another I think and the eschew the whole play of spirits and the greater world beyond.

    As a note, I'm the supporter in D&D discussions of using positive energy is a good act, using negative energy is an evil act, and the language was always in the books up until 3rd edition at least to support this (I don't know about later editions, I stopped trying to stay up to date when 3.5 was in the works).

  • Pitcrew

    I'd play this.

  • Just out of boredom and for slightly more definition ....

    I may throw something in every now and again, but full development, I'd probably wear myself out. If anyone is interested in contributing their two cents ... I"d be willing to do it similar to the way we did old Redemption.

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