Monday, 11 January 2021

Ask the Stars - The Signs

The Signs are designed to work as oracles, similar to how I've used Spark Tables but with a dash of Tarot's symbolism and openness to interpretation. I want to strike a balance between being vague enough to suit a range of situations, but specific enough to offer actual direction for your creativity.

The Signs make up the first half of the Ask the Stars system. The Signs don't represent static constellations, instead looser patterns that appear to reform commonly among the shifting positions of the Living Stars.


When combined with a Position, the Sign generally gives you the core of the issue at hand, with the Position acting as a modifier or accent to this.

Each is condensed to its symbol and two words. Let's dig a bit deeper into each.


1 - THE FANG (Hostility/Fear)


The survival-obsessed beast that lurks behind all of our civilised words and facades. The Fang represents the terrible things that we would do to ensure our own safety, and the unpredictable things that others would do to protect their own. These things tend to snowball out of control. A misplaced glance here, a crossed-wire there, and before you know we're enemies tearing at each other's throats. 

The Fang speaks to you when you're holding a knife and your eye lingers on it for just a touch too long. It may have been the first Sign that we learned to recognise in the stars, and without it we might have never made it beyond our first campfires. 

It can represent spiralling tension between two neighbours, a paranoid recluse, or a cowardly lickspittle parroting their leaders words of hatred. 


2- THE WINGS (Freedom/Nature)


That feeling of just wanting to leave everything behind. What could be more important than this ultimate freedom? Everything around you is just holding you back, like rocks pinning down a bird's wings. Don't overthink it, that's what you've always done up to this point.

The Wings speak to you when you gaze out of your window or into the night sky. It's the comfort you feel when you turn your back on obligations and responsibilities, or allow your animal brain to take full control. 

It can represent elopers heading off for a new life together, a hermit embracing wilderness life, or even nature itself acting as a great leveller.


3 - THE CAGE (Protection/Obligation)


The sacrifice of liberty for security, but consider that the danger can positioned be on either side of the cage. Stick to your word, laying down your life for the cause you have sworn to protect if that's what it takes. Some say that cages are made to be broken, but it's not your place to question, just to hold strong for as long as you can. 

The Cage tells you to close ranks and stay true to your oaths. If it all goes wrong, then at least believe that your sacrifice would be worth something.

It can represent a soldier throwing down their life to protect their liege, a secret society forming a square around a member when threatened by slander, or a monk dedicating their life to the spiritual salvation of their peers. 


4 - THE HAND (Creation/Misdirection)


The power and mastery that we all possess. By our own hands we wrench our vision into reality and feel our power grow even further. But a hand rarely works alone, so always consider what is happening behind the flashiness in front of you. The craftiest hands do their work out of plain sight.

The Hand puts your plans into action and forces your will onto the world around you, whether by your own hard work or the manipulation of others. 

It can represent a visionary leader uniting disparate followers, an engineer creating devices beyond their own reckoning, or a shadowy power behind the throne.


5 - THE MASK (Persuasion/Shame)

Everything that is false, hiding behind your face. We look at others and constantly fail to see the same insecurities and self-loathing that lurk and whisper to us. We seek their approval, but do not allow ourselves to enjoy it. Still, we can't get enough of it.

The Mask puts on a presentable face to the world, following social norms and building connections, all the while gnawing at you with its other side, never letting you show your true face.

It can represent a charismatic performer craving approval, a righteous politician hiding a dark secret, or a nation rising in anger to reclaim its shattered pride.


6 - THE EYE (Judgement/Secrets)


You just can't resist, can you? Peering over that fence, listening in on that conversation, reading that letter carelessly left out in the open. But just knowing isn't enough. You must pass judgement. What did they do wrong? Something rotten at their core? You'd better make sure your own secrets are carefully locked away.

The Eye draws you towards your neighbour and asks you what you really think of them, longing for an opportunity to be able to proclaim your judgement out loud.

It can represent a vengeful inquisitor, an intrusive relative, or a vault-keeper that revels in holding so many prized and secret possessions. 


7 - THE CHILD (Learning/Greed)


The empty vessel that we all were at birth. A cup longing to be filled with knowledge, but at times can feel impossible to even half-fill. The more we learn, the more we want. The more we have, the less we appreciate those things. The more questions we ask, the less we like the answers we hear. 

The Child is a constant voice inside you, always asking "But why?" and never being satisfied with the answer. 

It can represent an iconoclastic young scholar, a gluttonous socialite, or a bickering circle of conspiracy theorists.


8 - THE TRAVELLER (Wandering/Chance)


Symbolised as a walking stick or a sword, this is the romantic version of ourselves that follows the wind and leaves everything to fate. They close their eyes and trust that their destiny is planned, stepping boldly into whatever the universe has planned or them. Forget about your origin and your destination, all that matters is this step on your journey.

The Traveller wants your mind to shut off from worrying about past and present, and focus on what makes the now interesting. Stop to smell the roses, but don't stay for too long. 

It can represent a Knight without a liege, an artist travelling in search of inspiration, or a gambler that lost everything on a roll of the dice.


9 - THE ELDER (Authority/Tradition)


Listen. This is the way it is. I've been around, I've done the required reading, and everybody agrees with me. Who do you think you are to question this? Some things just work, so why should they change? Progress isn't a march towards some utopian destination, you know. It's much more complicated than that, but you really don't need to understand. Just get in your lane and you'll be happier.

The Elder speaks with harsh words that can, at times, feel oddly comforting. It's nice to not have to agonise over every ethical decision, so just follow orders or do things the traditional way.

It can represent a Prince inheriting great power through his bloodline, a despot stamping out resistance, or an ancient festival uniting a culture in celebration. 


10 - THE FLEET (Direction/Struggle)


The easy journeys are hardly worth thinking about. At some point we're all due a great pilgrimage, whether we're a lone ship or part of a sprawling armada. The journey makes us, and the destination allows us to reflect on the price paid. Was it worth it? And where next?

The Fleet pushes us towards our ambitions and desires, manifesting around us when we finally take those first steps towards progress. Its momentum keeps us going forward, sometimes preventing us from reconsidering the direction we're travelling in.

It can represent a battered army refusing to stand down and return home, an explorer leaving behind a loving family, or a great leader rising up through a life of hardship.


11 - THE COUNCIL (Opposition/Cycles)


Everything comes back around to where it started eventually, so what's the point in it all? We've got to keep the wheels turning, or else somebody will feel their side isn't getting the fair share of sunlight. Go through the motions, make them work for what they want or else they'll just keep asking for more.

The Council is the friction you feel even when you're doing something you've done a million times before. Why can't this just be simpler? Everything needs some sort of opposition, like the universe itself acting as Devil's Advocate.

It can represent a difficult harvest season after a particularly good year, a ruler unable to get reforms through their parliament, or a formerly ridiculed pastime coming back into fashion.


12 - THE LEGION (Unification/Identity)


The individual is nothing compared to the crowd, and the crowd ascends to something truly special when they act as one. A fighter is nothing next to a knight, and a knight nothing next to a crusader. We can do so much more when we cast off our own names and chant for our cause as a single voice of thousands.

The Legion is the rush you feel when you're marching in step with your compatriots, when you cheer at a flag being raised, and when you almost feel no control over your own body and voice. 

It can represent an army marching under a new banner, a traveller adopting the local culture, or a choir singing in perfect harmony.


Next time we'll look at the Positions that give each sign even more possibilities.

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