Raen are displaced souls.
According to Circlist belief, in Vita, the flow of life and death moves in a constant cycle. Upon death, the soul leaves its body and enters afterlife, waiting to enter the antelife (the stage of new life). For the raen, however, that flow somehow becomes broken. When the body dies, the soul cannot complete the cycle of reincarnation, and they become stuck, unable to reincarnate. Because of this, they must find another living body to take as their own, overpowering and destroying the invaded body's native soul in the process.
Please note this is different from possession by a ghost, for a ghost is an entirely different sort of spiritual anomaly than a raen.
The souls of raen are entropic; when unbonded, they become more and more disordered until they finally break down. They are extremely rare. Their "wrongness" is anathema to the mona, and their existence is largely a secret among all races in the Six Kingdoms.
Being a Raen
A raen, when not attached to a body, can only interact with the world in vague ways. They do not remember everything about their past life, only imprints of memories and emotions. The longer a raen remains a bodiless soul, the more these memories are worn away.
As soon as a soul is disrupted from entering the Cycle, the mona reactively objects to their existence. The raen is bombarded by monic will in an attempt to destroy it, which for a weakened raen could mean a swift, entropic end but for a stronger one could take hundreds of years. This monic disruption can be felt and experienced by others as magical disturbances: unnatural decay in the area of a raen, supernatural growth in another, difficulty casting and unexpected backlash in the vicinity of an incorporeal raen, and other strange diablerie-like experiences. The longer a raen remains unbonded, the stronger and stranger these phenomena become as more incensed the mona becomes at the soul persists in the wrong place.
For the raen, the longer it remains unbonded, the more it forgets about its previous life, its personality, and its memories as its existence is worn away by monic will.
Becoming a Raen
Any race can become a raen; it is believed to simply be a very rare happenstance. Some think that it is a sort of karmic retribution; that the inability to continue the flow of reincarnation is an indicator that someone was a bad person in life, but in actuality, just like the mona, there is no morality to the occurrence.
For those that are aware of the existence of raen, which are very few, it is theorized that the disruption of the Cycle are a sign of deeper problems with Vita itself.
Bonding to a Body
The raen can only bond with a body that has a living, sentient soul (of any race) inside: they cannot bond with a dead body, nor can they bond with animals. As a result, the raen has a terrible choice. They can remain a soul that disintegrates and corrupts the natural world, fading away to nothingness, or they can bond with a body to survive - but in the process, kill the other soul.
The process by which a raen takes over a living body is torturous and traumatic. The original soul can fight back and even reject the raen, forcing them from the body. The struggle can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the mental strength of the original soul and that of the raen.
If the original soul cannot fight the raen off, the soul is 'crushed' and they are killed in the process. The raen then inhabits the body as if it were their own. Unlike possession by a ghost, there can be no cohabitation of the body’s original soul and the raen’s soul together for very long—one will dominate the other, resulting in either the rejection of the raen or the destruction of the body’s inhabiting soul. During the attempted takeover, the two opposing souls are not at all coexisting, instead they are locked in some indescribable spiritual battle. To an outside observer, this moment can manifest in any number of ways: the body of the victim will usually fall into a comatose state, but a few cases of consciousness during the takeover can best be described as terrifying to witness.
Effects of surviving a raen “attack” can be severe for both parties involved: the raen can experience anything from disorientation to total destruction by energies spent attempting to bond, while the body could fall into a coma, become mentally damaged, or still die from the trauma of the experience despite successfully rejecting the raen.
Bonding with a body provides defense against the spiritual breakdown experienced by the raen in an unbonded state; while inhabiting a body, a raen will not experience the memory loss that they would while unbonded, and their soul decays at a much slower rate.
Complications and Risks
Naturally, raen experience many difficulties attempting to live in a foreign body. The initial bonding process is itself traumatic, as is the experience of adjusting to an identity and a physical experience that isn’t one’s own. The raen may experience loss of coordination, poor circulation, and other neurological impairments as the soul “settles” in the body, and this adjustment process is more difficult depending on how long the raen has been without a body. Additional examples of adjustment challenges include, but are not limited to:
- continued difficulties with coordination (both fine and gross motor skills), balance and movement
- continued circulatory issues that could affect day to day function, both publically and privately
- difficulties making the necessary mental connections to learn new skills, follow direction, think clearly, and remember information
- difficulties in speaking or remembering a particular language (spoken or written)
- difficulties in expressing appropriate emotions to a situation
In moments of great stress, severe disease or illness, severe injury, or as a result of monic interference (such as being the target of spells cast by another individual near or directly against them), the raen might struggle to maintain their bond with their body. If fully driven from a body either because the body succumbs to disease, is mortally wounded, or is subject to specific spells, the raen will return to its incorporeal state. In this instance, the vacated body cannot be reinhabited, as it is now dead.
Over many lifetimes, a raen can experience a disturbing loss of identity, coupled with the decay of their soul and loss of memory between bodies. Eventually, all raen fade away and are too weak to continue their incorporeal existence, though what happens to them with that final death is currently unknown.
A Raen’s New Life
Once the raen has bonded with a body, they have a choice. Either they can take the body and live their own life elsewhere, or, the more common choice, they can adopt the identity of the new body and continue living seamlessly as the previous soul. The raen often do not have many memories (or not very strong ones) of their previous life, and so will choose mostly to live as the stolen identity of the body they are inhabiting. It is possible for a raen to have even observed the previous body’s life before bonding in order to seamlessly adapt to their life, but this is a rather rare example of foresight.
A raen can theoretically live indefinitely in the bonded body, but when the bonded body dies of old age or because of outside forces, the raen will immediately be released from the bonded body and go back to being an incorporeal soul.
It must be noted that the mona still strongly objects to this takeover of a foreign soul in a body that does not belong to it, being sentient particles with long memories, and in its own way continues to attempt to 'reject' the strange soul from the body. This manifests itself as a strangeness to the raen-inhabited individual, whether it is tangible in a magical body’s field (such as when a raen inhabits a galdor or a wick) or as a very intangible strangeness in a non-magical individual (such as when a raen inhabits a human). This often wears mentally and emotionally on the raen over time, gradually but present.
Some raen can withstand it for longer, leading to years of being bonded to one body, while other raen are more affected, tending to body jump more frequently. Steps can be taken to repair this monic relationship should the raen recognize what is happening. Though the process is arduous and often unsuccessful, there are rare cases of the mona begrudgingly accepting the strange existence of a particular raen.
Note: a raen who has a bonded body still has to eat and drink, for they must keep their bonded body (which functions as a normal, living body should) alive and healthy.
The psychology of the raen are as varied as any other race. The majority of raen feel a constant melancholy and guilt, for to ensure their survival they are required to kill other souls every time they bond with a body. Others, however, feel that it is their right to do so, and that their own survival is paramount.
Secrecy and introversion are common aspects of the raen, and even if the original soul was gregarious and extroverted, a certain level of care simply must be taken. Because of how nearly entirely unknown their existence is across the Six Kingdoms with very few exceptions, raen keep their true identity a secret in order to pass as the previous person and not risk destruction. As a result, there are no known organized communities of raen, and it is exceedingly rare to be aware that the person you are talking to is even a raen at all.
A raen is more likely to adopt the culture of their bonded body for ease of secrecy and assimilation than continue to live as they once remembered they once were. For the raen that choose to live their own life and identity, they most often become loners and wanderers, or hermits, for they do not truly fit into any culture nor do they want to risk discovery.
A raen can only be created through death. However, the bonded body can still reproduce (both as a male or female) with other bodies normally. A raen in a female body will experience difficulty conceiving and miscarriages are far more common due to the monic objection to their existence, which makes raen bearing children in their new body very, very rare indeed. The child created will be the genetic offspring of the bonded body and the other parent for determination of race, and being a child of a raen does NOT make it more likely that upon death they will become a raen as well.
Perception of the raen
The majority of Vita is unaware of the existence of raen. The Deftung word “raen” is not a word on the lips of most citizens of the Six Kingdoms—the existence of souls detached from the Cycle who are not at all ghosts is not a known phenomenon so much as a subject of rumor and hearsay, lost in dusty books or in the scary stories of someone’s great-grandmother.
While folklore surrounding hungry ghosts and possession exists, these stories are met with varying levels of belief in the Six Kingdoms; for the most part, they’re dismissed as stories, or, at best, strange and inexplicable experiences. In galdor society, a raen attempting to reveal their true identity would likely be seen as delusional. In some human and wick communities, such an individual would be driven out of their community or killed.
Please note, that currently, only the Hexxos in Hox are fully aware of raen, and the order devotes itself to their protection.
Raen and Magic
Magic is a bit of an oddity for the raen. When they are inhabiting a body, they have access to that body's magic from the previous life. The raen can, technically, perform magic.
However, the mona view the raen as an aberration, and will actively reject and backlash against the raen attempting to cast a spell. It is incredibly, incredibly rare for a raen to perform magic successfully, and it nearly never happens unless there is a special reason or a carefully re-established bond made with the mona. A very conscious effort must be made by the raen to repair their relationship with the mona should they inhabit a body that has access to magic (a wick or galdor body only; a once-galdor inhabiting a human body would not be able to use magic at all, regardless of what they remember about their previous life ... and at this time, a raen inhabiting a passive's body would not have access to magic, either).
If the body the raen comes to inhabit is a galdori or wick, that raen will technically have a field, but it will be noticeably weaker once the raen inhabits the body and they will lack the ability to control their field in the same disciplined manner. The field will continue to become frayed and wild without use, full of discord and tangibly volatile, fading only slightly away as the mona continues to reject the raen's existence, but may occasionally flare to life again like a miniature diablerie of a passive because the mona is attempting to reject the raen from its host body. The sensation of a raen’s field to others is disturbing, uncomfortable, and wrong.
While a raen inhabiting a human’s body will not have a field, magical races attempting to cast in their vicinity will have difficulty doing so as the mona attempting to disrupt the raen will also disrupt the magical success of spells cast.
An unbonded raen, while incorporeal, can manifest visibly to others, appearing as a shadowy, luminescent echo of their formal self for short periods of time.
The Raen and Abilities
The raen does not, however, have the ability to perform everything the previous soul was able to. If the previous soul was able to use a sword, the raen doesn't inherit that complete knowledge, though the body may be physically fit enough to lift and use the weapon, the raen needs to learn or already know how to also use the same weapon to at all be effective with it.
However, knowledge across bodies over time becomes accrued so long as the raen retains their memory, and that can lead to the oldest raen being extremely adept at many different things.
While extremely long-"lived", the raen are not immortal. They can "live" up to 500 or so years, but eventually, the souls of all raen will disintegrate. This will not happen while bonded to a body, but as soon as a raen is unbonded, their soul will disintegrate and disappear. It is not known what happens to a raen when they reach their end, as they simply disappear. As far as anyone currently knows or understands, they do not rejoin the Cycle.
- You must start a raen as bonded to a body. You cannot begin as an unbonded raen.
- You may, however, write memory threads of being unbonded.
- Players cannot start a raen any older than 200 years old.
- You can attempt to take over and inhabit PCs and important NPCs, but it requires player and moderator permission because this involves PC or NPC death.
- You cannot start a raen able to use magic of any kind (not as a wick nor as a galdor). The body possessed can be magical, but it requires RP for the mona to successfully allow you to perform magic.
- A raen inhabiting a passive body will still experience a diablerie.
- You are more than welcome to memory thread as your previous live(s). Keep in mind how this may affect the lives of other players as well as your raen’s connections across their timeline.
- It is possible to, through role-play, die in- character and become a raen. This requires moderator approval as well as careful planning.
- It is possible to change bodies in-game as a raen. You do not have to keep whatever body you wish to start the game in!