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GrandMaster Lorill (Prime / male elf / wizard 9 (Geometer) / Bureau Chief B3 of the Guvners / LN)
It's been around for a long time, and it's entirely likely that it'll be around for a long time more. What? The game of chess. It's the favourite of many a tactician or general, gambler or high-up, and it's even said the powers themselves like to partake in a game or two. Except of course, they use real live pieces.
GrandMaster Lorill is one of the finest players of chess that the multiverse has ever seen. The chant goes that he beat Bes (the Egyptian Power of Luck) at a match once, and perhaps most surprising of all, he's still alive to tell the tale. Still, that's not why he's mentioned here.
Lorill joined the Guvners because he loved laws and rules. He was one of those bloods who liked to know where he stood. He wanted everything to be predictable and in its proper place. Now that's all very well when it comes to society; it's easy to impose and enforce laws, and change 'em if they don't seem to be working. It's also possible to catch those who break laws and punish them, either to deter others from trying to bob the social order or merely remove the offending sod.
But society ain't the only thing with laws. Nature's got rules and regulations too, it seems. Being an elven exile from a forest-covered prime world meant Lorill thought a lot about nature, too. Most bashers put these immutable laws down to the powers, follow the ones the priests tell 'em to, and that's that. Well, that wasn't 'that' enough for Lorill.
See, there's so many priests and powers that a basher must choose between. Pick any one power and his set of rules, and there's a thousand other laws you're breaking. Tried to follow all the laws of all the powers, and you'd only find that half of 'em contradict each other so you can't even do that. And there's no way of knowing which power's got the right laws, right? (Course, if there were rules about who you could and couldn't worship that'd be different, but there ain't).
That convoluted logic was what led Lorill to his conclusion: the Powers don't make up the rules of the multiverse; they're bound by 'em too. That's why the deities require mortal worshippers and are barred from the Prime right? That's just two examples of laws even the powers can't shake off.
Whoever wrote the rules, Lorill reckoned, wasn't anywhere to be seen manipulating them any more. Out of sight, out of mind, right? That was when he hit upon the analogy with chess. Maybe, he reasoned, the multiverse could be likened to a massive chessboard. Sure, it'd been said before, but only as a metaphor when mortals wanted to describe how important the powers were. But what if it actually were true?
Chess pieces generally don't argue with the player who's manipulating them, and they don't usually understand the reason they're being moved in the way they are. Imagine it from the point of view of a black pawn. Does the poor sod realise why he's always fighting the white army? Does he understand why he can only walk forwards, never backwards? Or why a knight moves in an "L"-shaped path? No. That don't make him any less useful to the player though, does it?
But what if the pawn could think for himself? Would he see and know things the player couldn't? Lorill found that when he empathised with his pieces when he played, felt their fear and adrenalin as they battled, and desperation to be victorious, that he enjoyed the game of chess all the more. And he also found he won much more frequently. Were they really alive, or did these little wooden spirits exist only in his mind, when he though about them?
Lorill began to wonder whether this discovery could hold a greater place in the multiverse.
Lorill's been the head of the Bureau of Strategic Tournaments in the Guvners for nearly fourteen years. In that time, he and his staff have stumbled across some great darks. They reckon that the whole multiverse is just a game, pure and simple. Of course, any game has its rules (or else it'd be unplayable), so they're self-assigned mission is to figure out what the rules are. Then they'll know how to follow, or more importantly, avoid 'em.
Players who begin to grasp the dark often come to same terrifying conclusion: if the multiverse is a game then are they themselves pawns? Do they control their own destinies? Chess pieces certainly don't. Could this analogy be drawn to themselves? Do the creatures that reside in the multiverse have a free will, or is there every action being decided upon by some outside observer; some 'Great Player'? Does the multiverse only exist for the pleasure of more powerful creatures than themselves? Is there a referee to catch cheaters and make sure the rules aren't broken, and what happens when they are? What sort of twisted mentality would play games with reality?
However, these doubts are of less importance to the Players than finding the rules themselves. It's vital to figure out what they are, then the Players will be able to play properly, for themselves. After all, life might just be a game, but it's real too, so it's important that you play as hard as you can!
The Law of Quantisation is the first rule, or rather, observation, that the Players have made. It's a curious and inexplicable one at that. With careful measurements, surveys and calculations, they've ascertained that the aptitudes or mortals bear certain quantised characteristics. In plain language, that means it's possible to rank the abilities of mortals by whole numbers. The Players reckon you can be 'this' strong, or 'that' little bit stronger, but you can't have a strength in between. Similarly, you can be this agile or that agile, but not halfway.
They really don't understand this strange law of nature yet, but they've been busy ranking all the aptitudes and statistics of every creature they can get their hands upon. So far they've found six, but there's no telling where this might end.
In a similar vein, observation of many hundreds of combats has revealed that no matter how proficient a warrior is, he can never successfully hit an enemy more than 95% of the time. The reason for this peculiar occurrence is completely unknown, but the Players bet its got something to do with the Rules...
Most of the other Guvners scoff at the barmy notions of the Players. Of course they've got free wills! Nobody imagines them or controls their lives! That sort of talk sounds more like the Signers that the Guvners. Still, for all the bluster, more than one Guvner has had doubts. Could they really all be just part of a game?
Copyright 1997 by Jon Winter