One of the things I miss now that Robin has left us are the long conversations we had about the world of Hârn and all its wonderful and intricate details. One of the most vivid of those conversations ocurred when I asked him why there was a restriction on the importation of technology in Mèlderýn. While this led to a long and involved discussion that crossed many boundaries, the part I’m going to discuss here is what I recall he told me about Pvârism, the philosophy at the heart of things.
Before I continue, I have to warn you that I am operating from my memory of the conversation, and my own personal interpretation of what Robin told me…or that I remember that Robin told me (which you’ll appreciate may not be the same thing). So, my memory might be faulty, or my interpretation, or both. Or neither! Your mileage may vary, as they say.
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What is the Pvâric Philosophy? From Hârndex, it is “essentially a way of perceiving Kelestia (the cosmic all) in terms of key elemental principles”. In HârnMaster Gold, The Shèk-Pvâr, Robin states in part “…it is more a style of enlightenment that must be embraced by the whole being.”
But what does that all mean??
Adhering to the Pvâric Philosophy and learning to manipulate the elemental principles (that is, casting spells) is a method of improving one’s self. It has exactly the same goal as alchemy and religion; a means of achieving enlightenment, or moving one’s soul (for want of a better term) to the next higher plane of existence. In other words, obtaining eternal life. On Earth, Buddhism has a similar goal; enlightenment, achievement of nirvana. Heck, Christianity, Judaism and Islam all have Heaven or Paradise (eternal life) as a basic tenet.
As an aside; the primary difference between Earthly religions and philosophies and Pvârism is that the former all allow one to learn from the lessons of others (indeed many use parables as a teaching tool), while the latter requires you to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.
Learning to cast spells is not the goal of a shèk-pvâr. In fact, thinking that way is dangerously close to being heretical; power for the sake of power. That goes against the Shèk-Pvâr Code. No, learning to cast spells is merely a step on the path. The goal of a true shèk-pvâr is to understand and manipulate the fundamental elements of nature so as to achieve enlightenment. And with enlightenment comes eternal life, or so goes the thinking.
So there you have it. Priests, alchemists and shèk-pvâr all have the same purpose, struggle to achieve the same goal. They just do it in different ways.
- Priests try to achieve piety so they gain the favour of a higher power, and thus be granted eternal life.
- Alchemists attempt to understand and manipulate physical properties of matter so they can construct the elixir of life (ie, the Philosopher’s Stone) and thus gain eternal life.
- Shèk-pvâr attempt to understand and manipulate the fundamental elemental forces of the cosmic all so they can create and cast the ultimate incantation and thus gain eternal life.
For me, this made the whole idea of the shèk-pvâr real. It meant that they are struggling in isolation, each man or women bending all their effort into understanding something that is inherently beyond normal understanding as we know it. It screams of utter devotion, of a mindset and outlook that is totally different to the ordinary Hârnic dweller. It also implies failure, greed, avarice, subtle bending of the rules, desperation,and all the base human emotions as these highly individualistic people try to force their minds into different paths to gain just a little bit more understanding. Which makes for more fodder for gaming, of course.
And once in perhaps a millennium, a shèk-pvâr disappears from his study leaving no trace. Did he just walk out, disillusioned and empty? Was he abducted? Was he obliterated by a rival? Did a casting go horribly wrong? Or did he achieve enlightenment? The rest of his chantry will probably never know.
And so the shèk-pvâr’s struggle to understand continues…
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