Whiteleaf is a universe with a purpose, and it is a universe that was carefully designed. The deities whose cooperation made it possible were careful, thorough, and imaginative in their efforts to perfect the "cash cow" which would sustain them until Eternity's End; they did everything within their not-insignificant power, acting as a United front and harnessing all the energies released briefly and unstably by the destruction of their original world, to ensure such a cataclysm could never happen again. And now...now they are worried it will.
One of the reasons the Previous Creation failed -- beyond the simple lack of logic and integrity in its creation, the counterproductive squabbling of these selfsame deities in their callow youth (before they were, in essence, traumatized by the spectacular failure of a venture they were superhumanly certain could never not succeed) -- was that paradoxically, the gods were too involved with it, but also not enough so. While the world suffered to an extent because it was uncertain whether the gods truly existed, or at least whether they truly deserved to be thought of as gods...conversely, too much of the mechanistic role the gods played was obvious, to those who knew what to look for. In short, if their first homeworld was a Recreational Vehicle of sorts (essentially a temporary residence for these divinities, as well as a means of getting them where they wanted to go, metaphysically speaking), then they had left the keys in the ignition but stepped away from the wheel, and were thus unable to stop their children from driving it off a cliff.
Thusly, in designing the new reality which was to become Whiteleaf, the gods agreed that preventing such a disaster from happening this time had to be their top priority...better to risk locking themselves briefly out of control this time, rather than letting such dangerous tools fall into unsafe hands. The many powers of magic could accomplish virtually anything, and their own status as living totems of that power meant that their very existence was a source of danger...the power they naturally commanded could be hijacked by ur-priests, replicated by archivists or ideoclerics, and mimicked, hacked, or even improved by wizards. None of that could be permitted this time, and so the gods decided to hide the truly powerful, dangerous secrets of the universe - the ones they themselves used to steer it on its course and keep it functioning to spec - in a place that was not a place, encrypting them in a language that was not a language, and controlling them with a magic that was not magic. This not-magic not-place, and the not-people not-gods who alone could operate it, both had a single name...spirit.
Though mortal cultures might conceive of spirits, they had no implicit access to any real beings matching that description. They could demand a god's attention, even coerce his actions, but if he himself was powerless to control the spirits, then surely they were safe from mere human tamperers. The spirit world was sealed off completely from all living (and undead, and even afterliving) beings; nothing that lacked a god's omniscience could even truly comprehend the nature of this underlying "meta-reality", of which their own world was essentially a shadow, devoid of real substance and powerless to affect its originator.
Which is why the gods were nothing less than dumbstruck when a gigantic tear opened up in the spirit world, and the truly-dead began to return, not as pale energy-phantoms in the shape of their departed souls, but as those souls in fact. The entire purpose of afterlives was to deconstruct the soul so that it could cease its existence without consequence; though it might take a few centuries, every worshipper, heretic, apostate or even atheist was eventually rendered down to pure Meaning by their experiences in the Heavens, Hells, and stranger destinations to which their lives Aligned them. When their ego-identity complex disintegrated and they were finally subsumed into the fabric of the Outer Planes, that was to be that. No more was to have remained than their names within the Akashic Record...but now those names were back, in bodies of pure ectoplasm, a substance that was not a substance.
Now, every one of the 300-plus churches on Whiteleaf has dispatched literally dozens of its best clerics to the site of the newly-discovered Manifest Zone, all with a single question on their lips: "What the actual Hell (or Heaven, or anywhere else) is going on?" There shouldn't be a Gate to the Afterworld on the Material World at all, let alone one that any idiot living or dead can just stroll right through in both directions. The population of Terrestra stands at some two or three billion, but with fifty thousand years of sentient history on record, and the tide of ghosts seeming to double in numbers every hour, the dead may soon far outnumber the living, if something isn't done, and SOON.
Roll your own. Dice, that is...
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