Animistic Cosmology

Nobilis is a very, very animistic game. Just about everything has a spirit, including things like collections, in all their combinatorially explosive glory. Even for the Nobilis, the mythic world is limited more by what you choose to pay attention to than by what spirits exist. For example, a typical human does have a human spirit — plus a liver spirit and a heart spirit and an “organs” spirit and a “body” spirit.

All of these are pretty intent on being the way they are. This makes reality fairly consistent. But it’s not quite as consistent as people think, because the underlying world is about myths and not immutable laws. Spirits have limited free will, and can exercise it in unexpected ways.

So a crowd is not a group of people. It’s a crowd spirit with links to a group of people. The physical proximity of those people comes in part from the nature of crowd spirits and in part from the perceived world saying: “Hm. These people are a crowd. They must therefore be local.”

Some principles

  • A mythic spirit of an object and the object itself are one and the same.
  • If a spirit dies, the object dies. It is destroyed in some way. It stops being what it was. A thought can be forgotten or twisted beyond recognition; a relationship can die.
  • A spirit can do what the object can do; no more, no less. A thought can change the actions of the thinker, a bond can change the actions of the bound.
  • A spirit knows about his “surroundings”. A marriage spirit knows about the other emotional bonds both in the couple have.
  • A part of a spirit can be a spirit. A snow storm is made up of neurotic water spirits shivering in crystal structure, frolicsome snow flakes, a graceful ballet of wind eddies, and the majestic progress of Winter. All or nearly all spirits are collectives of other spirits.
  • A Noble can interact with spirits.
  • Spirits can be as able to transmit information as their “real” form appears to be. A Knife spirit could chat about how sharp he is, but he could be unable to solve you a hard problem.
  • Spirits can also be much more than what their “real” form shows. A water spirit found in a glass could have ancestral memories and a deep wisdom.
Spirits Encountered in the story
NameSpirit ofAppearanceWhat is knownEpisode
A mighty forest fireMundane: An attractive, dangerous, femme fatale
Mythic: A tall women of fire, a conflagration pillar
Claims to be the spirit of the mightiest fires southern California has ever seen. Has a huge interest in those who fight fires.
Claimed to have been summoned to deal with Marjorie.
Episode 3

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