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Author Topic: Koh & Mother of Faces (Search spoilers)  (Read 10270 times)
Loopy
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« on: Mar 30, 2014 04:22 pm »

So, I wanted to talk about how what we know of Koh has been affected by Mother of Faces. Koh was introduced in the cartoon as a Face-Stealer with no motivation, an obstacle for Aang to overcome, but one who willingly shared helpful information so long as Aang was able to pass his trial. Later lore clarified that he stole the face of Avatar Kuruk's wife as a punishment for Kuruk's bad behavior, giving what seemed to be some kind of cosmic purpose, albeit a very harsh and possibly self-appointed one. Some fans saw Koh as a villain to humanity playing a longer game, while others considered him to be possessed of a morality that was simply incomprehensible to humans.

Then, in The Search, we learned about The Mother of Faces, who was not so coincidentally Koh's mother. Her purpose is to give faces out, and when asked, she says that "Koh" is not the name she gave to her son, that they were separated at the dawn of time, and that legends say that the reason he steals faces is because he misses his mother.

So, I wanted to talk about what the truth might be, behind all of this. Why were Koh and his mother separated? What was Koh's original purpose, if he only turned to face-stealing because of his loss and feelings? What does he hope to gain by stealing faces? Why hasn't he reunited with his mother? Why did he change his name? And so on.

I've recently begun thinking about this, related to a fanfic project I'm working on, and I was wondering what other people have pieced together or headcanon'd.

(I'd prefer, at least at first, to avoid bringing up out-of-universe criticism for this stuff. I do have criticisms, but I'd really rather try to figure these characters out before we worry about any storytelling failures, if we bother to do that at all.)
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 31, 2014 03:46 am »

Perhaps he hadn't reunited with his mother because a certain Wan decided to seal the portals between the spirit and physical worlds? Although know that Korra has reopened them, I suppose anything is possible.

Though Koh and the MoF predate the Avatar, so who knows really.
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« Reply #2 on: Mar 31, 2014 04:54 am »

I think Koh steal faces as a sign to the Mother of Faces, like "I'm still alive and active" or to give her something to do.
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« Reply #3 on: Mar 31, 2014 07:18 am »

Why were Koh and his mother separated? What was Koh's original purpose, if he only turned to face-stealing because of his loss and feelings? Why hasn't he reunited with his mother?

Looking at the usual villain-theme, if you want answers to this questions then ask this: Who is Koh's father?

What does he hope to gain by stealing faces?

I think he wants to impress his mother. Kinda' like how someone would try to impress his doll-maker mommy with rare and beautifully crafted dolls.

Why did he change his name?

Shame? He is also hiding in a lair in the middle of nowhere, only going out to steal faces.
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« Reply #4 on: Mar 31, 2014 11:51 am »

Why were Koh and his mother separated? What was Koh's original purpose, if he only turned to face-stealing because of his loss and feelings? Why hasn't he reunited with his mother?
Looking at the usual villain-theme, if you want answers to this questions then ask this: Who is Koh's father?

Judging from the fact that Mother of Faces created identity for all living things, and that she's a spirit, she might have not even needed a male partner to create Koh.

After all, asexual reproduction is more common in nature than we think, and I know of at least one instance in mythology. You know... the obvious one. Tongue
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« Reply #5 on: Mar 31, 2014 05:55 pm »

Perhaps he hadn't reunited with his mother because a certain Wan decided to seal the portals between the spirit and physical worlds? Although know that Korra has reopened them, I suppose anything is possible.

Except Koh was distinctly shown to be able to strike at people in the real world, even after the portals were sealed, and pull them into the Spirit World. The prime example is, of course, Ummi, but The Search also gives us Random Faceless Water Tribe Guy.

Also, Mother of Faces has to come from somewhere, when she appears at her seasonal little visit to Forgetful Valley.

Plus, we distinctly see Hei Bai appearing in both the real world and the Spirit World. On that note, Hei Bai was able to drag Sokka into the Spirit World, and Aang of course sent his own spirit back and forth.

The portals stop a human from bringing their body into the Spirit World, but I'm not actually sure what they do to Spirits. Certainly, enough Dark Spirits were running around in Korra's time even before she opened any of the portals. I almost get the sense that the Spirits weren't blocked by the portals at all, and their only purpose was to bind Vaatu and keep humans from bringing their Bending into the Spirit World.

So, in conclusion, I think we can say that the only thing keeping Koh and his mother apart is their own decisions.


I think Koh steal faces as a sign to the Mother of Faces, like "I'm still alive and active" or to give her something to do.

How often does she hear about it, though? The Search made it seem like this wasn't a common thing for her, when she saw Random Faceless Water Tribe Guy.


What does he hope to gain by stealing faces?

I think he wants to impress his mother. Kinda' like how someone would try to impress his doll-maker mommy with rare and beautifully crafted dolls.

To that end, you'd think he'd be more proactive about making sure his mother hears about it.

Why did he change his name?

Shame? He is also hiding in a lair in the middle of nowhere, only going out to steal faces.

Do we know that? He just happened to be home when Aang visited. Grin


Why were Koh and his mother separated? What was Koh's original purpose, if he only turned to face-stealing because of his loss and feelings? Why hasn't he reunited with his mother?
Looking at the usual villain-theme, if you want answers to this questions then ask this: Who is Koh's father?

Judging from the fact that Mother of Faces created identity for all living things, and that she's a spirit, she might have not even needed a male partner to create Koh.

After all, asexual reproduction is more common in nature than we think, and I know of at least one instance in mythology. You know... the obvious one. Tongue

This is my preference, as well. I'm not so sure about this notion of Spirits mating and procreating, and Mother of Faces may only be Koh's "mother" in that she's his predecessor or maker in some way, and her title incorporates the word "mother." Mythology offers lots of different possibilities for this kind of thing.


Great speculation and questions, peeps. Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: Mar 31, 2014 09:23 pm »

Perhaps he hadn't reunited with his mother because a certain Wan decided to seal the portals between the spirit and physical worlds? Although know that Korra has reopened them, I suppose anything is possible.

Except Koh was distinctly shown to be able to strike at people in the real world, even after the portals were sealed, and pull them into the Spirit World. The prime example is, of course, Ummi, but The Search also gives us Random Faceless Water Tribe Guy.

Also, Mother of Faces has to come from somewhere, when she appears at her seasonal little visit to Forgetful Valley.

Plus, we distinctly see Hei Bai appearing in both the real world and the Spirit World. On that note, Hei Bai was able to drag Sokka into the Spirit World, and Aang of course sent his own spirit back and forth.

The portals stop a human from bringing their body into the Spirit World, but I'm not actually sure what they do to Spirits. Certainly, enough Dark Spirits were running around in Korra's time even before she opened any of the portals. I almost get the sense that the Spirits weren't blocked by the portals at all, and their only purpose was to bind Vaatu and keep humans from bringing their Bending into the Spirit World.

So, in conclusion, I think we can say that the only thing keeping Koh and his mother apart is their own decisions.


I think Koh steal faces as a sign to the Mother of Faces, like "I'm still alive and active" or to give her something to do.

How often does she hear about it, though? The Search made it seem like this wasn't a common thing for her, when she saw Random Faceless Water Tribe Guy.


What does he hope to gain by stealing faces?

I think he wants to impress his mother. Kinda' like how someone would try to impress his doll-maker mommy with rare and beautifully crafted dolls.

To that end, you'd think he'd be more proactive about making sure his mother hears about it.

Why did he change his name?

Shame? He is also hiding in a lair in the middle of nowhere, only going out to steal faces.

Do we know that? He just happened to be home when Aang visited. Grin


Why were Koh and his mother separated? What was Koh's original purpose, if he only turned to face-stealing because of his loss and feelings? Why hasn't he reunited with his mother?
Looking at the usual villain-theme, if you want answers to this questions then ask this: Who is Koh's father?

Judging from the fact that Mother of Faces created identity for all living things, and that she's a spirit, she might have not even needed a male partner to create Koh.

After all, asexual reproduction is more common in nature than we think, and I know of at least one instance in mythology. You know... the obvious one. Tongue

This is my preference, as well. I'm not so sure about this notion of Spirits mating and procreating, and Mother of Faces may only be Koh's "mother" in that she's his predecessor or maker in some way, and her title incorporates the word "mother." Mythology offers lots of different possibilities for this kind of thing.


Great speculation and questions, peeps. Smiley

There's also the factor that Koh looks nothing at all like the MoF. I wonder if he always looked the way he did, or if she "created" him similar to her own image and he took a different form to spite her?

And is it possible she created him without a face, bringing him to steal as many faces as he can out of sheer jealousy? We've never actually seen his original face, after all.
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« Reply #7 on: Mar 31, 2014 09:40 pm »

That's a good point. Hei Bai has shown that Spirits have the ability to change their forms at will, so I can't think of a reason why Koh or Mother of Faces couldn't just pick whatever look they want.
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« Reply #8 on: Apr 01, 2014 05:12 am »

As a surname, Koh apparently means "to allow," "to permit," or "to praise." I think the last one makes sense with Guy's theory that he's trying to impress the Mother of Faces by collecting her handiwork.
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« Reply #9 on: Apr 01, 2014 07:17 am »

What does he hope to gain by stealing faces?

I think he wants to impress his mother. Kinda' like how someone would try to impress his doll-maker mommy with rare and beautifully crafted dolls.

To that end, you'd think he'd be more proactive about making sure his mother hears about it.

The Mother of Faces did hear about it. But from the looks of it, she is uninterested in the new hobby of her son.

Why did he change his name?
Shame? He is also hiding in a lair in the middle of nowhere, only going out to steal faces.
Do we know that? He just happened to be home when Aang visited. Grin

Actually, we do know that from Kuruk.

Why were Koh and his mother separated? What was Koh's original purpose, if he only turned to face-stealing because of his loss and feelings? Why hasn't he reunited with his mother?
Looking at the usual villain-theme, if you want answers to this questions then ask this: Who is Koh's father?

Judging from the fact that Mother of Faces created identity for all living things, and that she's a spirit, she might have not even needed a male partner to create Koh.

After all, asexual reproduction is more common in nature than we think, and I know of at least one instance in mythology. You know... the obvious one. Tongue

This is my preference, as well. I'm not so sure about this notion of Spirits mating and procreating, and Mother of Faces may only be Koh's "mother" in that she's his predecessor or maker in some way, and her title incorporates the word "mother." Mythology offers lots of different possibilities for this kind of thing.

Nah, in the Avatarverse, if you are messed up then the person behind your problems is always your father. Even if your kind reproduces asexually  Grin.

Also, it is worth noting that the MoF appears to be tree-like while Koh appears to be maggot-like. Interesting...
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« Reply #10 on: Apr 01, 2014 07:33 am »

Quote
Nah, in the Avatarverse, if you are messed up then the person behind your problems is always your father. Even if your kind reproduces asexually  Grin.

 Cool Cool Cool Cool Unalaq broke that stereotype!

(Maybe that's why so many people think he's a horrible antagonist)
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« Reply #11 on: Apr 01, 2014 02:10 pm »

Perhaps he hadn't reunited with his mother because a certain Wan decided to seal the portals between the spirit and physical worlds? Although know that Korra has reopened them, I suppose anything is possible.

Except Koh was distinctly shown to be able to strike at people in the real world, even after the portals were sealed, and pull them into the Spirit World. The prime example is, of course, Ummi, but The Search also gives us Random Faceless Water Tribe Guy.

Also, Mother of Faces has to come from somewhere, when she appears at her seasonal little visit to Forgetful Valley.

Plus, we distinctly see Hei Bai appearing in both the real world and the Spirit World. On that note, Hei Bai was able to drag Sokka into the Spirit World, and Aang of course sent his own spirit back and forth.

The portals stop a human from bringing their body into the Spirit World, but I'm not actually sure what they do to Spirits. Certainly, enough Dark Spirits were running around in Korra's time even before she opened any of the portals. I almost get the sense that the Spirits weren't blocked by the portals at all, and their only purpose was to bind Vaatu and keep humans from bringing their Bending into the Spirit World.

So, in conclusion, I think we can say that the only thing keeping Koh and his mother apart is their own decisions.


I think Koh steal faces as a sign to the Mother of Faces, like "I'm still alive and active" or to give her something to do.

How often does she hear about it, though? The Search made it seem like this wasn't a common thing for her, when she saw Random Faceless Water Tribe Guy.


What does he hope to gain by stealing faces?

I think he wants to impress his mother. Kinda' like how someone would try to impress his doll-maker mommy with rare and beautifully crafted dolls.

To that end, you'd think he'd be more proactive about making sure his mother hears about it.

Why did he change his name?

Shame? He is also hiding in a lair in the middle of nowhere, only going out to steal faces.

Do we know that? He just happened to be home when Aang visited. Grin


Why were Koh and his mother separated? What was Koh's original purpose, if he only turned to face-stealing because of his loss and feelings? Why hasn't he reunited with his mother?
Looking at the usual villain-theme, if you want answers to this questions then ask this: Who is Koh's father?

Judging from the fact that Mother of Faces created identity for all living things, and that she's a spirit, she might have not even needed a male partner to create Koh.

After all, asexual reproduction is more common in nature than we think, and I know of at least one instance in mythology. You know... the obvious one. Tongue

This is my preference, as well. I'm not so sure about this notion of Spirits mating and procreating, and Mother of Faces may only be Koh's "mother" in that she's his predecessor or maker in some way, and her title incorporates the word "mother." Mythology offers lots of different possibilities for this kind of thing.


Great speculation and questions, peeps. Smiley

I just think he's unaware she never changed the faces of the victims.
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« Reply #12 on: Apr 01, 2014 03:54 pm »

Koh going out of his way to steal the face of the 'haughty' is definitely still in : he stole Ummi's face to punish Kuruk for his arrogance, and the Water Tribe man spent all his time and talent stealing stuff from powerful people just for the fun of it. At the core, it's the same punishment for the same crime.

The most obvious explanation is that Koh collects faces to be reminded of his mother through her work. He misses her, but won't make up with her, so he fills that hole with her work.
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« Reply #13 on: Apr 01, 2014 05:42 pm »

As a surname, Koh apparently means "to allow," "to permit," or "to praise." I think the last one makes sense with Guy's theory that he's trying to impress the Mother of Faces by collecting her handiwork.

Oh, interesting. I wonder about the first two meanings, as well; perhaps they're a reference to how he was a gatekeeper to knowledge that Aang needed.

I just think he's unaware she never changed the faces of the victims.

Man, that would make him really pitiable. Actually, that's how I'd expect someone to eventually defeat him, by revealing that all his work had been for nothing.


Koh going out of his way to steal the face of the 'haughty' is definitely still in : he stole Ummi's face to punish Kuruk for his arrogance, and the Water Tribe man spent all his time and talent stealing stuff from powerful people just for the fun of it. At the core, it's the same punishment for the same crime.

The most obvious explanation is that Koh collects faces to be reminded of his mother through her work. He misses her, but won't make up with her, so he fills that hole with her work.

We do have Koh trying to steal Aang's face, and he noted that he had stolen the faces of children before. While lots of kids are rather arrogant, I have a hard time believing Koh would be that petty.

On the other hand, the only time he seems to go out of his way for faces is as a punishment. Perhaps that's the delineation. Anyone who comes to him or he happens to encounter is fair game, but he only specifically makes plans for the 'deserving.'

The most obvious explanation is that Koh collects faces to be reminded of his mother through her work. He misses her, but won't make up with her, so he fills that hole with her work.

I'd love to know what there is to make up about, though. It'd be amusing if Koh left because his mom didn't want him meddling in the affairs of humans, but he wanted to try and make a difference and fight for justice.
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« Reply #14 on: Apr 02, 2014 06:05 am »

God, I would love to make a fanfic about how Koh got separated from MOF and how he became like this.
However, I don't think all his face stealings were for his mother (as shown by Kuruk's wife and dat monkey).
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« Reply #15 on: Apr 02, 2014 08:37 am »

Well it seems face... stealing/giving/changing(?) is a power shared by mother and son. Won't it be funny if he was plainly named Son of Faces?

Maybe he could have been jealous? He might have wanted to carve out his own path to show he wasn't a mere disciple?
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« Reply #16 on: Apr 02, 2014 10:46 am »

What if Koh was born faceless, and the MoF intended that he create a face for himself... but he misunderstood why she did it and grew ashamed of his facelessness, stealing his mother's works because he believed they should have belonged to him? It would explain both why he steals faces and why he remains separated from her.
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« Reply #17 on: Apr 02, 2014 10:53 am »

I really wonder about Mother of Faces. It seems like she is some...godspirit, the being who created humanity. Didn't she refer to faces as her work? Was she the one who created the first Men? Spirits existed way before the first men arrived. Vaatu confirmed that. So is MOF the spirit who created the humanity... I think it's a really interesting thing to explore. Or who gave the bending to the Lion Turtles. The creators of bending should be the original sources or their spirits.

Aaaaah, Lok, please do another Spirit season Cheesy

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« Reply #18 on: Apr 02, 2014 12:09 pm »

Spirits are the most interesting characters, in my humble opinion.
Still, I'm confused about Koh. One part of me want more motives from him but I still like him and giving him a Azula-like excuse of losing his mommy would feel like a waste :p
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« Reply #19 on: Apr 02, 2014 06:40 pm »

Well it seems face... stealing/giving/changing(?) is a power shared by mother and son. Won't it be funny if he was plainly named Son of Faces?

Even funnier is if his name is simply "Faces." Thus, Mother of Faces is simply the mother of Faces. Grin

Maybe he could have been jealous? He might have wanted to carve out his own path to show he wasn't a mere disciple?

It's a diametrically opposed path, though, and inspired legends that he's doing it just for her attention. I kind of like the irony of his plan backfiring like that.


What if Koh was born faceless, and the MoF intended that he create a face for himself... but he misunderstood why she did it and grew ashamed of his facelessness, stealing his mother's works because he believed they should have belonged to him? It would explain both why he steals faces and why he remains separated from her.

So the key to defeating Koh for all time is to somehow inspire him to create his first face. Perhaps if Mother of Faces were 'killed' (assuming such a thing is possible for a Spirit without a physical form), the depth of his mixed sorrow would be what could get him to finally make a face, so that he can express his precise formula of emotions.

Even without my embellishment, it's an interesting notion.
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« Reply #20 on: Apr 03, 2014 12:57 am »

So the key to defeating Koh for all time is to somehow inspire him to create his first face. Perhaps if Mother of Faces were 'killed' (assuming such a thing is possible for a Spirit without a physical form), the depth of his mixed sorrow would be what could get him to finally make a face, so that he can express his precise formula of emotions.

I hope this theory will never show in TLOK. Because if it does, then the MoF will have some explaining to do while Jaeger!Korra repeatedly punches her in the face Cheesy.

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« Reply #21 on: Apr 03, 2014 03:08 am »

To defeat Koh, we'll need someone without facial expressions or face. Mai or Slender Man should pull it off.
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« Reply #22 on: Apr 03, 2014 03:39 pm »

Reg: portals.  The world seem to get a whole lot saner when the spirits migrated (for a certain value of saner) Likely with less spiritual energy and magic and possession things became more hospitable.  There were still bat-snake dragons, the Sky Bison, the Badgermoles, and etc.  With Wan's legend, which may be more an account than 100% fact, we can infer they are the results of spirits with certain affinities possessing mortal animals or just altering them with their presence.

Even with the portals closes men of certain spiritual persuasion and spirits at certain habits and times could cross.  I think Vaatu's portals just enable a flood of them regardless of power or temperment with no limitations.  And that was... dangerous.  Its the difference between vacationing and out and out invading and even on a physical level that matters with spirits.

The Mother, going by Rava is a great spirit who's actions and functions define universal concepts in the abstract.  Hell she may be older and greater than Raava herself (you need division and identity to have Light and Dark as distinct things to fight over dominance).  This makes Koh HELLA old. (moreso if his tree is akin to the Eternity one)  Likely he collects faces for why Zuko would enjoy turtle ducks.  He understands them and they remind him on his mother plus he knows stuff about them.

As for motive... Let's say form indicates state of the spirit for spirits.  He's a giant bug with fiddly hands  with a mouth that consumes faces and loves being a giant troll but collects knowledge and understands things.  I imagine if you were on his level you'd find him MUCH less impressive.  Akin to a basement dwelling hoarder harasses and blackmails you.  If Enter the spirit World IS canon he uses the face thing to dominate his victims some of who are spirits.  Think like the killer from True Detective only no human male sex drive so much as that compulsion insects have to collect, nest, and fiddle with things who enjoys trolling people.
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« Reply #23 on: Apr 03, 2014 06:00 pm »

So you're saying that "power level" (ugh, I hate the implications behind that term) is what determines if a Spirit can travel between the material and spirit worlds without a portal? That makes a certain amount of sense, but I wonder what kind of power is being used, or if it can even be classified.

I'd prefer to think of Koh as a true monster, though, and not a basement-dwelling internet troll. Cheesy
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« Reply #24 on: Apr 03, 2014 06:36 pm »

So you're saying that "power level" (ugh, I hate the implications behind that term) is what determines if a Spirit can travel between the material and spirit worlds without a portal? That makes a certain amount of sense, but I wonder what kind of power is being used, or if it can even be classified.

I'd prefer to think of Koh as a true monster, though, and not a basement-dwelling internet troll. Cheesy

Hey, at least he's a powerful basement-dwelling internet troll.
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