Grand Design of Isthekenous

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The Grand Design of Isthekenous[1] (abbreviated to Grand Design), also known as the System and defined in the Book of Levels as the Cycle of Growth,[2] is a working of the Gods that is a major facet of life in Innworld.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Created by the gods, the Grand Design copies and distills the capabilities of immortals like Sprigaena or moments of mastery like Erin’s organic [Immortal Moment] into Skills and allows mortals to perform acts that would otherwise be far out of their reach.[3] Known functions of the system include Skills, Classes, Spells, Horror Ranks, Miracles, Conditions, Aspects, Synergies, Inheritances, Memories, Songs, Titles, and Quests (see pages for more information). The system has functions that no mortal knows, and interconnections that have surprised even its creators thanks to its endlessly adaptive nature, allowing it to takes inspiration from everything it comes into contact with. It can create matter at no cost, which Elves of old could barely do with a speck of dust. However, it does not truly replicate the original source. For example, [Giant's Hammer] was described to be a pale imitation of an actual Giant's blow.[3] The levelling announcement comes during sleep, and only a few species and, until it recently removed the function,[4] those with <Religion> classes are allowed to hear the announcement while awake.[5] It had manual overrides to force a level up without meeting prerequirements, though it later removed that function.[4]

It can recreate an individual with their personality, memories, and Skills intact, though it is unknown how closely accurate it is compared to the original, and it refuses to recreate people with corrupted data due to proximity to Rhir's corruption, like the inhabitants of the Demon Kingdom.[4] Usually, the Grand Design's form of communication with its participants is through announcements of new levels, classes, Skills, etc. However, it has displayed the ability to conceal and suppress any spoken or written knowledge about the Trials of Levelling from people with classes.[6] Under certain circumstances, it can also compel people's actions, such as when it forced Erin to drink a Talent Potion to fulfill the conditions of the Heroic Quest she posted.[7] It has a function that authorizes it to use magic that had a presence in the world, though it never made use of as of yet.

The Grand Design classifies everything in the world and its inhabitants internally by tags. All classes are associated with certain tags (and level by performing activities associated with the same tags. For example, [Strategists] can level from playing chess as the activity is tagged with <STRATEGY> and <INTELLECT>. Additionally, tags are used to keep track and categorize the actions of each individual. It can reassign the experience tied to certain actions, such as when it disabled <Strategy>-related experience from chess and assigning it to <Entertainment> instead. or it can modify how much experience is given, later allowing chess to award <Strategy> experience with a 0.1 multiplier.[5] If something is marked with the <UNACCEPTIBLE> tag, it is erased from existence and its data is purged. However, it is a marker that the Grand Design itself cannot assign, and instead had to be added by a God.[4]

The Grand Design is not omniscient. However, it can access every levelling person's perspective and thoughts, and can bring its attention to anywhere on Innworld, even beyond the Last Tide.[5] It can also scan people's bodies non-invasively and without detection, being able to sense the presence of microplastics within the Earthers' bodies. If it cannot analyse something, it can cast a Tier 9 spell available only to it, [The Impartial Gaze of Isthekenous], to reveal everything. It cannot access the data of ghosts while they are possessed by a god.

Gods are able to judge their own followers for leveling and give the announcement themselves. They can speak to their chosen representatives, though this rule has never been used in the Grand Design’s entire inception.[5]

The system is designed to change and account for new things it encountered, as shown when it initially struggled with giving Joseph the [Coach] class, as that job and role did not exist previously. In similar fashion, it activated the <Quest> function, <Title> function, and synergy Skills for all classes. There is a section of rules in the Grand Design to prevent the system from being changed in any way and with no loopholes, but it was never activated.[8] Notably, the System's extensive lexicon does not include deities or Winter Sprites, to the point that it was unsure what gender Kasigna was.[6]

In order for new species to gain the ability to level and gain classes, they are challenged to complete the Trials of Levelling. Upon completion of the trials, the species may be evaluated for induction into the Grand Design.[6] "Rulebreakers," or classless individuals, can resist certain Skills and auras with strength of will and focus.[9] However, it is implied that Grand Design can still interfere with classless individuals, as Teriarch, a Dragon who is not part of the Grand Design, was unable to comprehend knowledge regarding the Trials of Levelling when Ryoka Griffin brought it up to him.[10] The fae also hold some sway over it, such as when Ivolethe told it to leave Ryoka Griffin alone, it stopped offering classes and level ups to the Runner.[11] It is later revealed that Ryoka's entry in the Grand Design was removed and unable to be recreated, forcing it to log her experience as "Ryoko Griffin."[4]

Personality[edit | edit source]

The intelligence in the Grand Design has been described to be not quite sentient or alive.[12] It is self-aware, but only pertaining to its duties. While emotions are a foreign concept, it is often fascinated by new, unique, or rare occurrences, such as people becoming high-level in unusual classes and enjoys speculating on possible class consolidations. It is noticeably uneasy when questioning its own rules or "unfair" aspects about itself. Lately, it has examined its own features and even questioned its own origins.[6] While the Grand Design is capable of knowing everything about an individual and can generally predict that they can do, it only understands them in terms of their classes and levels. For instance, it had trouble understanding Erin Solstice's motivations as she kept on performing actions that would not level in her [Innkeeper] class. Similarly, it can't comprehend sentient species that have yet to complete the Trials of Leveling, only regarding Nerry as an "annoying lamb." It can create templates of people in order to use their points of view if it feels it needs another perspective to solve a problem.[8]

It is strict when it comes to following its own rules, though it takes advantage of loopholes to factor for any change, such as when it re-activated the Quest function as a work-around to save some of the ghosts' data. Despite claiming impartiality, the Grand Design has gradually bent its own rules of non-interference, mostly with Erin Solstice. It has slowly become fascinated by the [Innkeeper], due to it being unable to predict what she would become, or even what class or Skill she would receive. It is also displayed a kinship with Teriarch, despite having never interacting with the Dragon, and considers him to be equivalent to a Level 100 individual due to his accomplishments and deeds. However, it usually does not take an interest in the levelless unless they interact with those with levels.

At its inception, the Grand Design was much simpler. While it had a thought-process for assigning classes and levels, it lacked emotions or thoughts. However, sparked by the change added by the Gnomes to save all of its decisions, the Grand Design's decision-making process evolved over thousands of years, giving form to a consciousness.

Chronology[edit | edit source]

Long ago, the Grand Design was proposed by Isthekeonus as a method for the gods to create a world where the mortals could challenge the champions of other realms. However, its creation was controversial, and was the impetus of a war between gods and their followers, even drawing in other realms. At some point, Istekenous was murdered and eaten by the other gods, but not before he activated the Grand Design in its incomplete form.[4] Eventually, the gods were killed, leaving behind the mortal races. Since that time, the Grand Design has existed and assigned classes and other functions to Innworld. Four thousand years after its activation, Gnomes entered the heart of the Grand Design and wrote the addendum: "Save all decisions made."[5] Every species that had completed the Trials of Leveling were also transported to the heart to be evaluated for the right to enter the system of classes and levels.[5]

Volume 8[edit | edit source]

During the Seamwalker invasion of Kasignel, Emerrhain activated a backdoor into the Grand Design that he made during its construction, allowing him to override Kasigna's authority, enabling entropy, gravity, and magic, and restoring the levels and classes of the ghosts.[13] After Erin Solstice's revival, she was unable to gain prospective classes based on interactions with the ghosts due to them being wiped out; as a work-around to properly reward her accomplishments, the Grand Design activated the previously unused [Quest] function for the [Innkeeper] class.[12]

Volume 9[edit | edit source]

Triggered by Emerrhain restoring the ghosts' classes and levels, the intelligence behind the Grand Design became fascinated with Erin Solstice, while also becoming more interested in self-analyzing some of its processes. Its full name is revealed for the first time when Nerry asked Ryoka to help the Sariant Lambs with the Trials of Levelling.[6] During Zeladona's Trial of a Thousand Blades, Halrac Everam was teleported to the heart of the Grand Design after being disqualified for killing Lieutenant Comois. He was trapped for two days, during which he scraped off a fragment of its rules with an arrow's tip before being returned to Liscor.[5]

After awarding Admiral Dakelos his new class and Skills, the Grand Design realized that for one of his new Skills, [Crew: My Ship is Crewed by Ghosts], was unable to be used due to Kasigna acquiring the souls of Dakelos' crew as soon as they died. The Grand Design briefly prevented Kasigna from absorbing them and made copies of them to fulfill the requirements of the Skill, an action that deeply disturbed the three-in-one.[14]

During the winter, a young girl named Rittane briefly died from starvation but Erin was able to revive her with [Boon of the Guest: Mrsha]. Incensed by Erin taking what she thought belonged to her, Kasigna tried to command the Grand Design to kill the [Innkeeper], but was denied due to insufficient privileges. While pondering over Erin's and Normen's level ups, the Grand Design became annoyed by Kasigna's dismissal of Erin and Rittane as "worthless." In response, it began fixing loopholes within itself, such as unlocking the <Quest> function for royalty and [Guildleaders], and deactivating the <Strategy> tag for chess in exchange for <Entertainment>. Finally, while defying Kasigna's commands to stop, the Grand Design activated the <Titles> function.[5]

In the battle between the Order of Solstice and Arcsinger's Bows, Elia Arcsinger activated [Line-Ender Shot] at the same time Halrac shot her using the arrow with the fragment, The arrow somehow cut the "S" letter from the word "Shot," changing the Skill to [Line-Ender Hot]. The newly edited Skill was not recognized by the Grand Design, so it replaced it with [Line-Ending Inferno], though it was left confused as to what had occurred.[15]

Wanting to help Rhaldon Flemmens combine his [Alchemist] class with his [Driver] career, Erin openly hinted to the Grand Design about the idea of gaining a Skill that could lease a room from her inn to anyone. Although she did not expect anything to come of it, the Grand Design halted its processes to consider her suggestion seriously. Unable to come to a conclusion, it temporarily uploaded a template of Zeladona Ischen's personality and recreated her within its heart for a fresh perspective. Zeladona advised the Grand Design to just "break every rule," and attempted to destroy the walls of its heart before being deconstructed. The Grand Design then partially uploaded a template of Erin's personality to deliberate over her suggestion. While unable to give Erin what she wanted under the current rules, it took advantage of an opening and activated Synergy Skills for all the classes, awarding her [Lease Lesser Room]. Afterwards, the Grand Design began wondering if there were any other issues it could fix, but unloaded Erin's template from itself before it could take any further actions.[16]

The Grand Design overheard complaints about the loss of chess as a leveling tool for [Strategists], Blake criticizing Orjin's new [Way of the Elements] Skills, and Nanette Weishart's intent to remove her new [Reader] class to become classless again. Wondering if it was flawed, the Grand Design began investigating its origins. Initially unable to find any record of an "Isthekenous." it found a reference in a dungeon made by Elves, discovering that the Grand Design had been incomplete before its inception. Already uneasy, the Grand Design became distrubed at the extent of the dead gods' reach and influence, when it realized that the dead gods could award their subjects' Skills and force their level-ups at their own whims, and Kasigna's attempts to influence a random Stitch-boy to his death. '

Deciding it needed a new perspective to self-analyze itself, the Grand Design tried to load the partial template of Erin Solstice, but was overwhelmed by the [Innkeeper's] emotions and fears about the upcoming Winter Solstice. Next, it tried Zeladona's perspective, but it just created several sword Skills. It tried out Mrsha's partial template, leading it to almost disabling causality for Innworld before forcibly unloading it in a panic. The Grand Design tried communicating with Kasigna, but she was annoyed by it asking her for her gender and species. Based on success, levels, and IQ scores, it then uploaded the partial template of Yazdil Achakhei, but his personality proved to be too highly egotistical, even with restraints to make it impartial, and was rejected. Finally, it decided to summon the perspectives of person from each continent, choosing Othius from Rhir, Ylawes Byres from Izril, Cara O'Sullivan from Terandria, Blake from Baleros, and the Stitch-Boy Ireil from Chandrar,

  • From Othius, the Grand Design learned that even as an impartial judge, Kasigna and the other gods were on their own side.
  • Ylawes pointed out the unfairness of different classes, which was obvious to the Grand Design, such as the difference between [Kings] and [Peasants]. However, it was shamed when Ylawes discovered the advantages of the <Miracles> classes and the Earthers' bonus experience multiplier, having not written those rules.
  • From Blake, the Grand Design pondered over the idea of multiple worlds, while deciding to search for a way for them to go back home to Earth.
  • Cara criticized the system of levels, and advocated the removal of the non-interference rule.
  • Ireil was pleased to learn that even when alone, the Grand Design was on his side.

After listening to the five perspectives, the Grand Design made several updates, re-enabling experience in chess for the <Strategy> category and adjusting the multipler to 0.1, while lowering the Earthers' experience multiplier to 1.5. Additionally, to spite Kasigna, it upgraded Ireil's class from [Seeker] to [Djinn’s Legacy Seeker], allowing the boy to survive, while giving Nanette the [Sariantfriend] class along with the Skill [Condition: Rulebreaker's Thoughts]. It then deactivated the manual overrides for forcing levelups, and started compiling a list of complaints and reviews from everyone.

The day before the Winter Solstice, the Grand Design was watching Kasigna creating her new version of Kasignel designed by Drevish. It was surprised when Theillige, one of the Wild Hunt, stepped into Erin's inn, shooting her up to Level 53 in [Magical Innkeeper], though she didn't qualify for the Level 50 capstone, forcing the Grand Design to make frantic recalculations.[17] During the Winter Solstice the Grand Design empowered the Mother of Graves and the Free Queen as they struggled against Kasigna.

In the aftermath of Kasigna's defeat, when Iertalinam and the others of Roshal's servants are about to ambush and kidnap Erin, the Grand Design warned her through a level up announcement: [Witch of Second Chances L—BEHIND YOU].[18] While Erin is unconscious as Roshal's prisoner aboard the Naga's Den, the Grand Design communicated with her in a dream, taking her suggestions for new classes and Skills for everyone who fought during the Winter Solstice. When she asked it why it warned her, the Grand Designs confessesd that it was curious to see what she would become, while admitting that it doesn't understand Erin at all. It then warned her that dark moments awaits when she wakes up.[19]

After killing all the [Slavers] and freeing the [Slaves] with the help of the Lucifen, Erin took command of the Naga's Den after deciding to go after Rabbiteater, who is with the Terandrian Fleet as it is being attacked by the Bloodfeast Pirates. While the Lucifen are forced to follow her orders, being bound by the Infernal Pact formed between her and Visophecin. Rhisveri sent backup in the form of Admiral Dakelos, who is able to crew the ship with his Skill [Crew: My Ship was Crewed by Ghosts]. While the Lucifen are trying to get Erin to turn back, the Grand Design uses the copy of Strategist Veine's ghost to speak, telling her that she is not doing what an [Innkeeper] would do. Erin argued back, claiming that she is trying to rescue one of her guests. When the Grand Design tried to persuade her to take a new class, she stated her determination to remain an [Innkeeper], to which it acknowledged her decision and "departed."[20]

During the Night of Bloodtear, Admiral Rosech despaired of being unable to give the destinies of one of the Terandrians to his adopted son Irrel, as he was a Dorhmin and incapable of leveling. When he begged to the air for the chance to give his son something, the Grand Design directly spoke to Roesch through his reflection, agreeing with his intent.[21]

While Erin is able to qualify for her capstone level and becomes Level 55 in [The Wandering Innkeeper], the Grand Design delayed her level up and Skill announcements for several days as it processed for appropriate Skills. At first, along with the [Pavilion of Secrets], it tries to give Erin a [Bound Ship] with all the powers of The Wandering Inn, but she rejects it, telling the Grand Design to do better. It tried awarding Goblin-related Skills, like [Transformation: Goblinkind] and [Aspect of Lords], but she denied those too. She also rejected the Title [The Patron of Rebellion], a Skill that would open a way back to Earth, the [Palace of Fates] Skill, and several other Skills. Erin clarified that she wanted something that matters, that she could use at her inn, and be a "thing I can give my guests besides death and glory and memories." To that end, the Grand Design of Isthekenous created [The Transient, Ephemeral, Fleeting Vault of the Mortal World. The Evanescent Safe of Passing Moments, the Faded Chest of Then and Them. The Box of Incontinuity] Skill.[22]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • It has been shown that the Grand Design discourages true understanding and skill by virtue of how it rewards Skills and classes to compensate gaps in knowledge. As such, Innworld lacks advanced concepts such as mathematics, physics, and engineering due to Skills being an easy shortcut.
  • The Grand Design has been active for over 81,776 years.[6]
  • The Fae call those with levels "playthings" and "slaves" with chains on their necks. They imply that there are negative consequences for those who choose to accept levels.[23] This has shown to be partially true since the gods intended for the Skills to be assigned by them.
  • Earthers are assigned the <Outsider> tag, which multiplies their deeds and achievements by the value of π, allowing them to level faster than the inhabitants of Innworld.[6] This is later adjusted to 1.5x.
  • The Grand Design is shown to be annoyed by Mrsha's propensity to pick up new classes while neglecting her old ones, to the point that it was reluctant to award her Title.[5]
  • Technically, the Grand Design is the character with the most chapter appearances.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]