In the ancient past, a great calamity befell the Earth and devasted the human population. In order to survive, groups of humans developed instinctual bonds with different species of insect and over time developed the Ancestor Arts, special abilities many of which were unique to each insect tribe or 'kinden'. Ancestor Art was thus instrumental in separating humanity into different kinden and creating the different societies found throughout the world.
All kinden claim a connection to an Ancestor Spirit, an archetypal representation of the insect species they relate to. It is from this Ancestor Spirit that all Art flows, gifting humans with an affinity for its descendants with unique and useful abilities. Among more secular kinden the quasi-religious concept of the Ancestor Spirit has been replaced with the philosophical concept of the Ideal Form, though they are effectively the same idea. Individuals who undergo near-death experiences may behold a vision of their kinden's Ancestor Spirit / Ideal Form, such as the vision of a vast and beautiful dragonfly Salma experienced after being impaled by a Wasp sword.
Art manifests itselfs in a number of ways:
- Firstly, there are some innate physical advantages that some kinden have over others: things like size, speed, strength and endurance.
- Secondly, anyone who spends time training themselves can achieve a level of empathic communication with the (giant) insects of their kinden.
- Thirdly, there are Arts which are ubiquitous to some kinden, like Flies' wings or Scorpions' claws.
- Next are those Arts that manifest only in some members of a kinden, either through necessity, desire or the vagaries of fate.
- Finally, some kinden are disposed towards certain emotional responses: the Wasps' rage or Beetles' indifference.
Art is not bestowed upon every individual equally; it is fairly common to be strong in one area of one's kinden's Art and weak in another. For example, Thalric has a particularly powerful sting but lacks endurance when flying. Furthermore, some individuals struggle to achieve the same level of ability as their peers. Techniques to enhance and develop Art are usually meditative, though massages and even sex can prove more effective, as was the case when Cheerwell Maker unlocked the rare (for a Beetle) Art of flight after receiving a massage from and sleeping with her lover Achaeos. Sometimes Art only manifests in moments of extreme stress such as combat or at times of great personal significance.
The relationship between Art and magic is unknown. Contact with magic can unlock previously unlooked-for Art abilities, such as when Cheerwell and Achaeos were linked via a vision and Cheerwell developed Darksight, which is incredibly rare for a Beetle but ubiquitous among Moths. Some Arts are more common among Inapt races than Apt ones and visa versa; for example most Inapt races have strong night vision while Apt individuals rarely do. Whether magic unlocks latent Art already within an individual or bestows Art according to the kinden of other participants is unknown.
Art Abilities Edit
- Flight: Via ephemeral wings that sprout from the shoulders. Ubiquitous among Flies, Dragonflies, Moths, Wasps, Bees and Butterflies, fairly common in Mantids and rare among Beetles. Ant-kinden women are rumoured to be able to fly after losing their virginity, but this is likely just a salacious fiction.
- Climb: With gripping hands and feet. Common in Ants, Spiders and Beetles.
- Leap: Probably unique to Grasshoppers.
- Spinning Webs: Unique to Spiders, who use it to create silken clothing and armour.
- Natural Weaponry of bone spurs, claws or spines in a variety of places. Ants and Spiders can grow knuckle spurs, though they often only manifest in combat. Some Dragonflies develop thumb claws, while most Mantids have spines that flex out of their forearms. Uniquely, Assassin Bug-kinden can fuse their hands into deadly killing blades.
- Mindlink: Telepathy. Synonymous with Ant-kinden, but also found among Bees and a few rare individuals of other kinden. Ant-kinden telepathy is restricted to members of their own city-state, but other kinden can share thoughts across races.
- Dangersense: Common in Spiders.
- Sting: A bolt of fire shot from the palm of the hand. Ubiquitous among Wasps and their most reliable weapon.
- Acid Hand.
- Digging: Unique to Mole-Cricket kinden, whose hands can bore through earth and rock.
- Blood Sustenance.