Whitewall is firmly, but compassionately, ruled by this strange trio of spirits. While it is clear the rulers are gods of extraordinary puissance, they have not been forthcoming about their specific identities or their respective spheres of influence.
In their past, all three spirits were highly placed and well-connected gods in one of the major Celestial Bureaus. Their individual names remain unusually abstract for spirits who interact with the mortal population. This is a standard situation; as highly abstract entities, the spirits’ personal names are especially closely connected to their pattern in the fabric of Creation and have less to do with euphony than natural spiritual laws.
These gods did not originally resemble one another as they do now: they had to assume a new appearance when they began their alliance as “The Syndics .” In the several centuries since the Syndics began their masquerade, more worshipers have come to know these gods in their new roles than in their old. The gods’ shapes as “The Syndics” are now easier for them to hold than any other, even the ones they wore in the First Age.
This is useful for the gods, as they can appear together (as they usually do) or singly (if the others are attending to Celestial business outside of Whitewall), and no one takes much notice.
Over the 700+ years of sharing an identity as rulers of Whitewall, the Syndics have developed a shared consciousness. All three know what’s happening in the others’ minds at all times. If they continue on as they are now, there’s a strong possibility that the Syndics will fuse into a single god: the guardian of Whitewall. Only their attention to their individual duties beyond the city walls has prevented this from happening already.
As an extra measure of protection against this fate, thaumaturges in the Syndics’ service summoned one of the angyalka from Malfeas. Bound in chains of orichalcum, this demon of the First Circle plays its haunting music in the chambers of the Syndics all hours every day. Contrary to common wisdom, the angyalka isn’t there to protect the Syndics. She’s there to remind them of their individual natures with her music, thereby enabling the Syndics to avoid merging into a single entity.
While the Syndics may be the city’s guardians, they refuse to be called Whitewall’s city fathers. In fact, doing so is a minor crime, though no one in Whitewall understands why. The Syndics understand their reasons acutely.
The title of city father, even in the Second Age, rightfully belongs to another, whom they would not want to offend: the Unconquered Sun. As the Syndics see it, they are simply maintaining his temple city in his absence. Allowing themselves to be called the city fathers of Whitewall would be a political minefield were the greatest of gods ever to notice their effrontery.
The Syndics are gods who each took pity, for his own reasons, on the mortal world in the wake of the Great Contagion. More mercenarily, the Syndics realized that if they did not actively represent and bolster the concepts they represented, at least for the city they adopted, they might well end up as gods without worshipers. The Syndics never intended to become city fathers; the gods only wanted to fan the guttering flame of humanity temporarily after the Great Contagion. The spiritually resonant architecture of Whitewall provided the Syndics with such a strong surge from the city’s assembled worshipers that all three of the gods have found excuses to stay and shepherd Whitewall, though they would never dream of calling the city their own.
Theirs or not, the Syndics receive prayers — enhanced by the spiritually resonant First Age architecture of the city — from nearly every resident of Whitewall.
That gives the Syndics an automatic worshiper base of 700,000. They also receive prayers from those across Creation addressing them in their original Celestial positions.
Technically, this is a Severity 3 offense in Yu-Shan, but the Syndics are popular in the Celestial City, especially with the gods in the Bureau of Humanity who view the Syndics as paragons of their cause. Only Ruvia , the Captain of the Golden Barque, truly dislikes the Syndics and is waiting until he can gain allies in his cause before taking action.
The Syndics have not entirely abandoned their wider duties in the Celestial Bureaus, which is more than can be said for most gods in the Second Age, but it’s clear that the rulers of Whitewall are putting in more time as “the Syndics” than they ought to be and their other functions could be suffering. While the Syndics keenly aware of this fact, the prayers they receive from Whitewall alone are far more satisfying than the prayers they get from the rest of Creation combined.The presence of the Syndics has served the people of Whitewall more than they even realize. The Syndics are entities with a particularly long view of events, and they play games in which a single move takes longer to complete than the average mortal lifespan. The Syndics have spent the last seven centuries pitting their enemies against one another, particularly the Fair Folk and the dead of Marama’s Fell .
Both of these enemies of Whitewall are fierce, but, in recent years, the ghosts and the fae have made more strikes against each other than against Whitewall. The Syndics expend a great deal of subtle effort to see that this remains the case but, since the disappearance of the Empress and the subsequent arrival of the Bull of the North , maintaining that balance has grown vastly more difficult.
YO-PING, CELESTIAL MINISTER OF HARMONY Edit
Just as there are five gods of war, one for each of Creation’s poles, there are five gods of political stability who generally tend to the continuance of peace, justice and public contentment in the political domain. Overseeing all five of these powerful spirits is Yo-Ping, the CelestialMinister of Harmony, a god of negotiation, political stability, diplomacy and harmony. He is a quiet spirit with no tendency toward the bombast of Creation’s assorted war gods. As the hierarchical equal (and spiritual antithesis) of E-Naluna, Creation’s war queen, Yo-Ping often has much to discuss with both E-Naluna and the assorted regional gods of war, but this he does in his own mild (though direct) fashion.
In the First Age, Yo-Ping — a high ranking figure in the Bureau of Humanity — reported directly to the Unconquered Sun himself and enjoyed the privilege of being one of his favored advisors. Yo-Ping’s duties changed after the Great Contagion, and in the Second Age, he reports to Taru-Han, the Shogun of the Department of Abstract Matters, and, to a lesser degree, to the Maiden of Serenity. Given Taru-Han’s minimal degree of involvement with Creation these days, Yo-Ping is inclined to comport himself as he feels the Unconquered Sun would wish him to and tune out Taru-Han altogether.
Yo-Ping’s relationship with Venus is cordial, if cool, although they work together well when circumstances dictate.
At the height of the First Age, Yo-Ping was a cherished and powerful god who worked to ensure the overall stability of the Old Realm. Once the Primordial War was over, most of humanity sent him prayers for the kind of stability over which he presides, and his name, as well as the shrines dedicated to him, was ubiquitous. Yo-Ping was a familiar figure in Yu-Shan, often meeting with the great Solar monarchs, and he was courted, flattered and occasionally bribed by those seeking his blessings upon their kingdoms. Yo-Ping was familiar with the Holy City of Ondar Shambal, as all gods were, and he envied the powerful prayers generated by the city’s spiritually active architecture. In the wake of the Great Contagion, it was this covetous urge that made him settle in Whitewall.
Yo-Ping was placed highly enough before the Usurpation that he did not hesitate to quarrel with the Five Maidens about the mistake their Chosen were about to make in eliminating the Solar Exalted. While this quarrel incensed four of the Maidens, the Maiden of Serenity hesitantly broke ranks and supported Yo-Ping, as she was obligated to do by certain old agreements that defined both her core nature and his. While Venus could go along with a plot to destroy the Solars based on the promise of a more serene future, she could not take Yo-Ping to task for supporting the status quo, which, though not entirely pleasant, was stable until the Sidereals began hatching their plots.
Yo-Ping lost some strength in the transition to the Second Age, but not as much as many gods. Where there is war, there are those who pray for peace and stability. The wives, parents and children of those who fight in wars pray to Yo-Ping to prevent wars, to end wars once they’ve begun and, at the very least, to keep the surge of battle fromvisiting them. All of these are duties that Yo-Ping negotiates with E-Naluna, the Queen of War.
In the Age of Sorrows, and, especially since the disappearance of the Scarlet Empress, prayers for peace and stability are growing more common by the week; Yo-Ping’s power and ability to enhance stability within an area increasingly reflect that shift.
In Whitewall, Yo-Ping oversees the stability of the city and peace in the region. At the local level, he guards the stability of the city by fostering harmony within the community and by seeing that those with unrestrained violence in their natures are exiled or traded to the Fair Folk or the dead.
It was Yo-Ping himself who negotiated the deal with both of those parties as a means of ridding the city of its more destabilizing citizens and lessening the danger from the city’s foes. On a regional level, Yo-Ping has allowed the local war gods to ignite war in previously peaceful locales (Halta, for example) in exchange for steering clear of Whitewall (which has narrowly avoided a handful of enormous battles thanks to his subtle intervention).
LURANUME, THE MASTER OF FIVEFOLD LUCK, LORD OF AUSPICIOUS SURPRISES Edit
Known as “the pattern that exists behind and between patterns,” Luranume is the God of Luck, overseeing coincidence and unforeseen events. He is the most mysterious of the Syndics, a god of things that happen unexpectedly or of their own accord, the events that fall between the strands of fate. As a god of the numinous and unpredictable facets of Creation, Luranume is one of Luna’s lieutenants in the Celestial Hierarchy and the only god working for the Bureau of Destiny who does not report to one of the Maidens. Some (like the Maidens and a number of Sidereals) see Luranume as a chaotic force. Others see him as the deity who keeps Creation from becoming stagnant or overly bound to the will of the gods. Luna asked the Primordial Autochthon to create Luranume as a check on the power of the Maidens; he is a countervailing force to the stasis represented by the Loom of Fate, a random chance for anything to happen at any time. Accidents, coincidence and instances of pure serendipity are Luranume’s purview.
Since joining the Syndics, he has regularly reassigned fortuitous events from elsewhere in Creation (mostly from the Blessed Isle) to Whitewall to improve the city’s standing in the chaotic North.
UVANAVU, THE CHRYSANTHEMUM SHOGUN Edit
A god of health, longevity and well-being who lost a great deal of standing (or at least credibility) during the Great Contagion, Uvanavu bears a deep grudge against the Deathlords. As a god of health, he knows full well where the Great Contagion came from, and he ferventlyresents the Deathlords’ tampering with Creation. Though he is the god of health and wellness in Creation, Uvanavu’s best efforts were barely enough to prevent the eradication of the human race (and a few other races besides). Uvanavu would love to make some kind of strike, any kind of strike, against the Deathlords or any of their minions, but he’s wise enough to know that direct action against them would only bring pain to the city. Instead, he’s taking a deep delight in helping to shrink Marama’s Fell through mortal agents; it was Uvanavu who instigated the practice of making pilgrimages to the resplendent chrysanthemum shrines (see pp.37-38), and he sees to it that everyone who participates in that tradition benefits from a year and a day of exceptional health (+2 dice to all rolls for resisting disease). Still, he yearns to be entirely free of the influence of the Deathlords. Should a Solar Circle sorcerer ever visit Whitewall, Uvanavu will personally request that Marama’s Fell be purged of its taint and reclaimed as healthy land. He possesses ancient texts containing both of the spells capable of revitalizing shadowlands, and he will gladly give the spells to any sorcerer able and willing to use them in exchange for having the deed done.
Because most mortals pray for health and well-being at some point, Uvanavu is individually the most powerful of the Syndics. It is Uvanavu who sees that disease is kept from Whitewall, and it is he who is responsible for many of the more stringent civil charter laws dealing with cleanliness and the management of garbage and waste.
The Syndics’ short-term goal is the defense and stability of Whitewall . They’ve managed this much for centuries at this point, and the city’s standing as the largest and most stable in the North attests to the Syndics’ remarkable success in this regard. The stability they’ve provided the city thus far has been astonishing, particularly given Whitewall’s precarious positioning near both a Wyld zone and a major shadowland. Whatever may take place outside the city’s walls, however, the city itself is a place of surprising calm. While some of the arrangements the Syndics have made to protect the city (with the Scarlet Empress, the Deathlords and the Fair Folk, for example) are bitter pills for the Whitewall’s rulers, the arrangements are necessary if the city is going to become what it has the potential to become.
In the long term, the Syndics seek to return the city to its glorious past as the Holy City, Ondar Shambal. The rationale behind this agenda is relatively simple: they either want to be the ones to benefit from repairing the city’s geomantic pattern (the mandala configuration and the First Age architecture), or they want to be the ones to turn the restored city over to the Unconquered Sun.
To accomplish this, the Syndics intend to repair the city’s First Age buildings and restore the auspicious mandala pattern once formed by Whitewall’s streets and open spaces. While much of the spiritually attuned architecture of the old city was destroyed in the Usurpation, the portion that remains still works, and every repair optimizes the city’s spiritual functionality that much more.
The Syndics have located the white granite quarry in the mountains north of the city from which the building blocks of Whitewall were first obtained, and the individual blocks have already been carved and are waiting. All the Syndics need now is a Zenith Caste Solar to bless each block and put it in place according to the ancient geomantic diagrams possessed by the Syndics.
When in Whitewall, the Syndics reside in the single largest block of the old city for a reason: it acts like a prayer lens. Entreaties made to the city’s rulers there are more focused and resonate more pleasingly to them there than the prayers would anywhere else.
Like many of the gods associated with the Bureau of Humanity, the Syndics generally support the return of the Solar Exalted, but, given the Syndics’ relationship with the Unconquered Sun and their hopes for Whitewall, the Syndics tend to be even more eager to support Solar Exalts than many other gods from that Bureau. With the Empress gone and the Realm in disarray, Whitewall is being relatively brazen in opening its doors to Solar Exalted, some of whom live and work openly as guardians. This doesn’t endear them to Sidereals of the Bronze Faction, but the Gold Faction has identified Whitewall as an excellent site to establish a future base for the Cult of the Illuminated.
Within Whitewall, the Syndics are the ultimate power.
They wrote the city’s civil code, and they alone have the right to amend it. They appoint judges, guardians and inspectors, act as heads of state and champion the order for which Whitewall is known.