I love the spooky, occult aspects of the Invisible Sun game and especially the symbolism of the Path of Suns. It’s a unique conceptual background, carefully divorced from real world occultism by the game designers, but the depth of tradition in Tarot, numerology, and other divinatory practices means that you can take these concepts and run with them. Which I did!
My vision of the Actuality involves a lot of coincidence and fate and interconnected concepts, so I like playing up the things “hidden” in the fabric of the universe. One thing I love about the game books is the inexplicable parallels that you start to see as you play the game. There are eight different attribute pools, like the eight different Suns (minus the secret Invisible Sun), but that’s probably just a coincidence or a philosophical choice. Except what if it isn’t? Likewise, the world “Invisible” is always printed in a grey ink that’s different from the rest of the text. This is probably just a stylistic choice to call out the importance of the Invisible Sun and its ties to every vislae, except maybe it’s not? Maybe every invisible thing is somehow important to the Sun Guardian Visla???
These are questions and there are no answers (which is cooler, in my book) but here’s one way to use some of the suggestive occult content of Invisible Sun in your campaign.
The Numbers of the Path
The Suns each have a number associated with them and their Nightsides have different numbers, all adding up to the biggest number seen in the game 17. This is the upper cap for Challenges, the number of surviving districts in Satyrine, and other featured elements of Actuality. The associations with each number are not spelled out anywhere, so I’ve gathered them here for reference.
- Beginnings, birth, potential, the past (Silver)
- Union, fusion, balance (Green)
- Self-expression, inspiration, creativity (Blue)
- Truth, reality, permanence (Indigo)
- Mortality, humans, the unknown (Grey)
- Death, fate, the future (Pale)
- Destruction, annihilation, the present (Red)
- Redemption, mercy, forgiveness (Gold)
- Magic, protection, power (Invisible)
- Order, control, changed hearts (Nightside Gold)
- Chaos, upheaval, powerlessness (Nightside Red)
- Fear, dread, condemnation (Nightside Pale)
- Limits, pragmatism, defeat (Nightside Grey)
- Hurtful truths, dejection, unmasking (Nightside Indigo)
- Self-indulgence, distraction, obsession (Nightside Blue)
- Consumption, doom, the penultimate (Nightside Green)
- Completion, extremity, the ultimate (Nightside Silver)
Add to this the number zero which isn’t referenced but is needed for using numerological calculations with this system. Zero in Pythagorean numerology is associated with wholeness, comprehensiveness, and all-or-nothing situations. We’ll just steal that moving forward.
There are many different kinds of numerology and they are all equally bogus, so take your pick as to which method you want to emulate. I prefer using Pythagorean or Chaldean numerology because they are the sorts of things that a lot of players in my American-based group are used to seeing. I also like the doubling effects of Chinese numerology and have folded some of that in as well. While there might be seventeen important numbers in Invisible Sun, there are only nine Suns and we can use the same nine-digit correspondence to Latin letters.
Both Pythagorean and Chaldean numerology include the idea of “master numbers” which are the numbers 11, 22, and 33. These are greater than the usual numbers of these systems (0-9 and 0-8, respectively) but since the numerology in Invisible Sun goes to 17 we have to adjust this a little bit. It’s also interesting that these numbers are multiples of 11, associated with the Nightside of Red in Invisible Sun and so my invented mythology is that these master numbers are associated with overcoming a situation of helplessness and powerlessness. Encountering one of these master numbers in a divination means that the person or situation has the ability to redirect energy and take control of a situation that would normally be out of their control. The master numbers in Invisible Sun numerology are…
- The number 22 which represents practical and pragmatic energies overcoming powerlessness. The fusion of the Green Sun shows you how to embrace the chaos and work with it to achieve your goals despite the upheaval.
- The number 33 which is a redirection of intuitive, charismatic energies. The creative power of the Blue Sun reveals an inspired path through the chaos, giving you a glimmer of power in the face of helplessness.
- The number 44 which shows clarifying and communicating energies that bring sense to the senseless. Chaos and upheaval still exist but when you can clearly see the whole you can find a way to tame or bypass it.
These master numbers show some of the more advanced ways to use numerology in Invisible Sun and they play into the next section prominently.
Now, 17 may be the biggest number in Invisible Sun‘s numerological scheme but it isn’t the biggest number you’re likely to run across. This is especially true if you are converting names to letters using the correspondence above or converting dates. So we need to borrow from the Pythagorean system again to deal with those.
When you encounter a number larger than 17, you reduce it by adding together the individual digits to reduce it to a significant number. To do that, follow these steps:
- Add together each digit of the multi-digit number.
- If the result is more than 17, add together each digit of the result.
- Keep doing that until the resulting number is 17 or less, or until you reach a master number (22, 33, or 44).
Once you reduce the number down to a master number or something that appears on the Path of Suns you can discuss its significance. You can obfuscate as well by calling out the digits that come along the way, so the divinatory message of 25 could have to do with the meanings of 2, 5, or 7 (the sum of 2 and 5). Whichever one of those makes the most story sense is the “dominant” element of the numerological divination, or maybe their relative influences will become clear with time.
Here are some examples using stuff from the books.
The Minister of Public Works, Aug Fullan, is described as a large and ancient woman who is trying to reclaim and cure the Ruined Expanses of Satyrine left by the destructive magics of the War. Will she be successful? Well a numerologist would look at her name as a starting point.
A(1) + U(3) + G(7) + F(6) + U(3) + L(3) + L(3) + A(1) + N(5) = 33
This is a master number so we’ll stop there and can tell that Aug Fullan is using creative, intuitive energies to overcome a situation of powerlessness. This is the first name I flipped to randomly, dear reader, and it worked out so well that I’m a little unnerved. Let’s chalk it up to coincidence, though.
Next up in the Palindrome district is Chalamadan, elderbrin curator of the Museum of Natural Beauty. The numerology of their name would be…
C(3) + H(8) + A(1) + L(3) + A(1) + M(4) + A(1) + D(4) + A(1) + N(5) = 31
This isn’t a master number or one of the Path numbers so we keep going with 3 + 1 = 4 which is the number of truth, reality, and permanence. Since Chalamadan’s museum incorporates beautiful things from throughout Actuality we can say that they reveal the truth of the universe’s beauty through their collection. It’s also the number of Indigo, home to the elderbrin, so that’s handy. We can also note that there are a lot of ones in their name which can point to the potential or beginning of something (a spell of beauty?) and also add up just the vowels (four again) for extra fun. If we add the consonants in their name we get 3+8+3+4+4+5 = 27 which is 2+7 = 9 or the number of magic. Things are looking good for a secret spell and you also might make something of 27 which is made of 2 (the number of fusion) and 7 (the number of destruction). Maybe this spell will destroy all of the items in the museum to create something powerful and greater.
There’s no mention of a calendar system in Invisible Sun that I know of (Edit: Helpful vislae over on the Facebook group pointed out to me that the books do say to use the calendar we use on Earth so I’m ahead of the game), but if you want to make one up or assume that they have the same one as we use in Shadow then you can do date conversions too. November 11, 2020 (the date after this post is published) is 11/11/2020 which is…
1 + 1 +1 + 1 + 2 + 0 + 2 + 0 = 8
That’s the number of forgiveness and redemption which could be an auspicious day to fulfill your Undo a Wrong character arc, but there are also a few zeros in there which might mean that doing so is an all-or-nothing deal.
Or it means nothing because this is just a game and if it doesn’t work for your story then screw it!