Friday, July 7, 2017

[CSIO] Religions of the City State Part 3: Arghrasmak, The Toad, and Manannan

Religions of the City State
Par 3 of 3

7) ARGHRASMAKHAR (“The Way of the Beast Within”)
Gods: Arghrasmak, The Gargoyle, patron of brute strength and brutishness, anti-intellectualism and counter-elitism, simple pleasures and decadent gratification, and sexual virility and wantonness. No other gods are found at the temple — it is said that none of the very few who found the god hale company could stand his snoring. Even Tama Hama, the indiscriminate goddess of wanton depravity, was unable to withstand the god of virility’s foibles.


The Gargoyle, Arghrasmak, in His Lair
Whether Arghrasmak is a gargoyle that has attained divinity, a balrog with a severe skin problem, or a god that has fallen to a baser level is one of the great mysteries of the faith (such as its mysteries are).

Worshipers: Common rabble, who find the simple and mostly unwritten canon of the temple quite appealing, especially the regular orgies of drugs, alcohol, and wanton debauchery. Thugs and muggers, laborers and whores, hedonists and murderers, and anyone who favors the strength of the Id over the Ego and the extirpation of the Super-Ego, can be found at the temple.

Priesthood: Mostly clerics, with a few shamans, and a handful of anti-paladins.

Patriarch: Laghar the Awful

Alignment: Neutral and Chaotic. Clerics must be Chaotic to advance beyond 6th level.

Symbol: A gargoyle horn and a gargoyle fang juxtaposed in a “yin-yang” style arrangement on an octagonal field.

Regular Worshiper’s Benefits: Discount access to orgies of beer and free love. You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to learn the language of gargoyles and grotesques, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast strength. Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Afterlife: The faithful believe that they will be reincarnated in the form of physically powerful and virile monsters, able to take revenge on the rich and powerful who used and abused them while they were living — that is, when they think about death and the afterlife at all.

8) FEELEEBOOFOH ZOTHAGGOS (“Temple of the Toad”)
Gods: The Toad, known as Zothaggos, is said to be an ancient god, old when the gods of the modern era were not yet born, mighty in magic, yet indolent and sluggish by nature, much as are the creatures from which it takes its name. It is said to reside in a great hidden temple complex deep in the Mermist Marshes, the center of its worship and power. The Toad grants wisdom and power to those who feed it sacrifices. It is said that it can animate its idols to defend its followers and treasures, though the faithful pay much in sacrifices to recompense their master for its efforts.

This is not the Toad God you are looking for...
The temple and its god have been the patrons of the city harbor since long before the founding of the city, for Modron, the goddess of the river, had been lost for long centuries, and thus the Toad ruled the waters of the Roglaroon near the marsh and for some distance seaward. The Toad’s control of the hither waters of the Roglaroon remains strong, so much so that there is no temple to Modron in the city to this day, and the nearest shrine is almost five miles downriver.

Worshipers: Most worshipers at the Temple of the Toad are members of Old Clan families from the city or from the Vatrachee, the semi-savage dwellers of the Mermist Marsh. Both have ties to the villagers of the southern farmlands in the Darkfield Vale near the Mermist Swamp. They all tend to be an in-bred lot, with bulging eyes, webbed fingers and toes, and warty faces. Converts are few and far between, generally those wishing to marry into one of the clans, or minor nobles given small holdings among clan lands. Then again, those passing near the swamp on a journey, or leaving by boat from the harbor, are well-advised to leave an offering at the temple, lest the “Toad take his toll,” as the saying goes.

Priesthood: Clerics, druids, and shamans, with a handful of magic-users.

Patriarch: Kudrun the Peaceful

Alignment: Neutral or Chaotic; clerics may be either and still rise above 6th level.

Symbol: A simple depiction of a resting toad.

Enemy Gods: Modron and her people, the merfolk of Crespar, are the greatest enemies of the god and his worshippers. Guerilla warfare between the factions is the rule of the day in the Mermist Marsh as both sides battle for complete dominance. Zothaggos has an ancient rivalry with his brother Tsathoggus, but it rarely breaks out in open warfare; the two temples usually merely compete for followers and treasures.

Regular Worshiper’s Benefits: Discount access to spell casting and networking with the families of the Old Clans, some of which still have positions on the Clanute, hold much land in the Darkfield Valley, and no small influence with the Overlord and the bureaucracy. You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to learn the language of giant frogs (and toads), or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast animal companion (giant toads/frogs) (note that you are limited to no more than 2 HD per level in giant toads/frogs as companions at any one time). Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Afterlife: The temple has a complex belief in the soul passing through different stages of existence, much as a toad passes through different stages in its life cycle. A person’s soul in this life is merely an “egg,” and when the soul passes on this life, it hatches into a “tadpole” and goes on to the Great Celestial Swamp, where, if it has found favor with the Toad, it will eventually evolve into the “toadlet” stage, beyond which little is known but much is suspected. If out of favor with the Toad, the soul may be consumed by the infernal beasts that live in the Great Celestial Swamp, such as Glornax the Great Gar, Bulgorax the Demon Bird, or Krilnax the Devil Maw, a giant flaming crocodile — the temple believes in many, many such demons (some of them even exist).

9) JEE MARREY CHIAMBLE (“Temple of the Sea God”)
Gods: Manannan Mac Lir, God of the Sea and his wife Fand, Queen of the Sea Fey. Followers of the other goodly Tharbriana gods may leave votive offerings at a common pantheon altar, but there are no clerics of other gods at the temple. Modron and her followers are not welcome; though she is the daughter of Manannan, he keeps good relations with his wife Fand only by not reminding her of his infidelities with Rhiannon, mother of Modron…

Manannan Mac Lir making a ruckus.
Worshipers: Anyone who travels along the River Roglaroon or otherwise depends on the waters of river, sea, or ocean can be seen at this temple regularly. The Roglo River-Folk are commonly found here, either arriving from or setting out on a new leg of their circuitous water-gypsy life. Any sailor who foolishly leaves port without having left an offering at this temple is generally cast overboard by his shipmates, ere the city is out of sight.

Priesthood: Clerics, druids, rangers, bards, and paladins.

Patriarch: Negardis the Upright.

Alignment: Neutral and Lawful; clerics must be Lawful to advance beyond 6th level.

Symbol: Triple spiral

Enemy Gods and Demons: Donn, God of Death and Demons (enemy of all the other Tharbriana gods); Proteus, the Shepherd of Neptune (daughter Modron’s former consort); Lord Skortch (a vile demon-god of fiery death and destruction); and the Demon-Prince Plooshuhn (Lord of Defilement and Desecration).

Regular Worshiper’s Benefits: Merchants, sailors, and fishermen who visit the temple regularly make many, many contacts among their brethren, as, unfortunately, do river pirates. Worshipers can also contact the merfolk of the River Roglaroon through the temple. You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to learn the Merfolk tongue, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast create water. Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Afterlife: Faithful souls that properly performed rituals will join Manannan Mac Lir and Fand in their undersea realm; those who performed the fewest or least reincarnate as mere eels or fish, the greater as dolphins or whales, and the greatest as merfolk. Those who failed to perform the rituals properly or regularly will be ignored, their soul doomed to wander the Shadowlands forever, fodder for demons. Those who piss off Manannan will be condemned to be reincarnated as jellyfish, shrimp, or even plankton.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

[CSIO] Religions of the City State Part 2: Morg, Nephthys, and Pegana

Religions of the City State of the Invincible Overlord
Part 2 of 3

4) HELL-BRIDGE TEMPLE (“Temple of the Eye”)
Gods: Hanuman the Accursed, the Ape-God, is the ostensible deity of worship. Hanuman the Accursed was once a godling who served Thoth (under the name “Thoth Astennu”) in Ancient Ghinor, but broke away from his teachings during the First Age, when he grew great in power and became a true god. Today, after many centuries, Thoth and Hanuman the Accursed maintain a general dislike of each other, and ignore each other when possible — their followers take their old grudge more seriously than do the gods, which leads to troubles now and again.

The Baleful Eye of Morg
Hanuman the Accursed is served by the demigod Morg the Abominable, his son and greatest champion of the central Wilderlands — and while the faithful also praise Hanuman the Accursed, it is Morg that the priests of the Hell-Bridge Temple worship directly, as the source of their power and the subject of their veneration. More specifically, it is the Baleful Eye of Morg that is revered, the very ocular orb that was ripped from Morg during one of his great battles (though it is an item of contention among the faithful in exactly which battle the eye was lost).

In truth, it is power the priests and acolytes serve and desire, and Morg and his Eye are simply a path thereto — so no few of the clergy also call upon demons and loathsome cosmic entities for service.

Worshipers: Anyone, though most who visit the temple regularly seek knowledge for power, rather than knowledge for its own sake. Many local farmers also make a pilgrimage and perform sacrifices of grain and livestock before the growing season, as the Baleful Eye of Morg is said to have power over the weather. It is also a favorite temple of assassins, courtesans, and blackmailers.

Priesthood: Mostly clerics, with a few magic-users, sages, illusionist, and shamans, and a handful of anti-paladins.

Patriarch: Statinstor the Torturer (said to be the most powerful cleric in the City State).

Alignments: Worshipers are usually Chaotic, though many Neutrals visit the temple to seek knowledge and power, as well as good rains and bountiful harvests. Initiates and priests must be Chaotic.

Symbol: The Baleful Eye of Morg, an eyeball with a fiery-red cornea and a vertical slit-pupil, the whole surrounded by an aura of crackling power.

Enemy Gods: Thoth (though neither make much of it these days); Varuna, Asura, Rama, and Hanuman the Mighty from Telanghata; and Mitra, as Morg’s followers have sought power through evil and destruction and the use of the blackest magic.

Regular Worshiper’s Benefit: A very cult-like temple, most benefits accrue to those inducted into the “Inner Mysteries.” You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to learn Infernal, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast hypnotism. Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Afterlife: Like those of other originally Ghinorian-based faiths (save Harmakhis), the followers of the Hell-Bridge Temple believe in the Judgment of Ma’at. However, their belief is that the wisdom and power of Hanuman the Accursed and Morg provide a bridge (the “Hell-Bridge” of the temple name) over the chasm wherein awaits Am’mit, and that the faithful will cross over to Hanuman the Accursed’s realm in the Fourteen Kingdoms, where the demon servants of the gods reside. There they shall serve him for all eternity. Should they fail to please him in life, though, the bridge will fail, and their soul will be consumed by Am’mit.

Note: Hanuman the Accursed is not to be confused with the Telanghan god Hanuman the Mighty. Hanuman the Accursed is a Chaotic god who has taken the name of the ancient and honored god in mockery of all that he represents.

5) TEMPLE TEMPTER (“Temple of the Spider-Goddess”)
Gods: Nephthys Queen of Coin, the Bountiful Lady, the Spider-Goddess. Originally a goddess of Alt Ghinor, sister of Isis and Osiris and sister-wife of Set, she long ago broke from that pantheon and set out on her own, and has done very well as a patron of merchants and of trade. Though on friendly terms with most other Lawful gods, and even with her siblings and former pantheon-mates, she allows no other gods sanctuary at her temples; perhaps she learned from her own history, in which she usurped the powers and portfolio of the Spider-God, Yezud, once her lover and ally.

In the Dungeons beneath Temple Tempter
Worshipers: Merchants, moneyed aristocrats, bankers, thieves, money-changers, and whores, as well as craftsmen and any who travel or trade coin. Anyone down on his luck will also seek out the Spider-Goddess, as she is said to have power over luck, good and ill. Sybarites, too, make offerings to continue their lives of wealth and idle pleasure.

All, especially merchants, of any faith or alignment, are welcome to leave an offering to the goddess, to invoke her good will and protection during a journey or transaction. Just make sure the offering is worthy of her attention!

Priesthood: Mostly clerics, with a few bards, monks, and rangers; paladins are very rare.

Patriarch: Psinar of the Outlands.

Alignment: Worshipers and petitioners may be of any alignment. Clerics may be Lawful or Neutral, and Neutrals may advance beyond 6th level.

Symbol: A gold coin with eight spider legs.

Enemy Gods and Demons: Yezud, the Spider-God, still survives, though his power is much reduced, and he actively seeks retribution against Nephthys and her followers. She is also opposed to Set, her brother/ex-husband, who actively meddles in her affairs (a personal vendetta), as well as his son, her nephew, Harmakhis. Her son Anubis is on cordial terms, but is no longer an enemy (yet neither is he an ally).

Regular Worshiper’s Benefits: Networking. Anybody who is somebody eventually passes through the temple seeking wealth or luck. Every time a worshiper attends a ceremony or event beyond the first per month, there’s a chance (flat half the tithe percentage each time) that one of the priests he knows will introduce him to someone important (or at least, seemingly so) — and the better the tithe, the better placed the new connection. You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to learn the language of giant spiders, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast animal companion (giant spiders) (note that you are limited to no more than 2 HD per level in giant spiders as companions at any one time). Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Afterlife: Another Ghinorian faith, like those who follow Thoth and of the Hell-Bridge Temple, followers of Nephthys believe those whose sins balance with the Feather of Ma’at are granted a place in the Seven Halls of Fair Ament, where eternity will go on much as did life, while those whose sins are lighter than the Feather of Ma’at and whose accomplishments are great are granted estates in the Offering Fields amid the palaces of the gods — specifically of course, the palace of Nephthys. Those whose heart is heavier than the feather will be consumed by the beast, Am’mit, in whose bowels the damned writhe for all eternity. 

However, even in such cases, provided the faithful follower of Temple Tempter followed the proper rituals and made the proper sacrifices to Nephthys, though they fail the measure of Ma’at, their soul may be rescued before damnation by the Web of the Goddess. If so, their soul is returned to the land of the living, there to be reincarnated a giant spider in the temple. A lifetime of good service as a temple guardian and the soul may be reincarnated (reborn as a child), with another chance at life and death. 

But even the Web of the Goddess has its limits, and a soul stained with too much evil can snap the web, and fall into the maw of Am’mit...

6) YNAS NUDDROL (“Temple of All Gods but One”)
Gods: In the mists before the Beginning, Fate and Chance cast lots to decide whose the Game should be; and he that won strode through the mists to MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI and said: ‘Now make gods for Me, for I have won the cast and the Game is to be Mine.’ Who it was that won the cast, and whether it was Fate or whether Chance that went through the mists before the Beginning to MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI — none knoweth.The Book of Wonder

The Sign of Mung
The creator of the world and the gods in it – MANA-YOOD-SUDHAI – is not itself worshipped; in fact, should it awaken, all the world and all the gods it created will be undone. And so, the temple helps Skarl, the Drummer-God, keep the Creator asleep with drums playing at all hours of the day and night. But then, too, as all gods were created by MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI, all gods are equally worthy of veneration – or so the canon reads and the priests of the Temple of Pegana saith.

Thus, there are more than ten thousand niches in the wall of the temple, each filled with a small idol or icon of a god, demi-god, or godling, many of them strange and alien. Every day, one of the countless gods is venerated above the others… there are more than ten-thousand days in the Cycle of Pegana. The twin sanctuaries in the temple represent Fate and Chance (square and round, respectively), the ultimate ideals of Law and Chaos, and stand empty, save for sigil-covered pillars representing the ideals (for how does one depict the ineffable?)

In practice, the faith is very mystical and overly complex, being divided into many suborders (one per guild, plus others), each with many ranks, bizarre clothing, outlandish titles, and each with its own set of exotic rituals (a la Freemasons and similar organizations). Secrecy is paramount, and advancing through each rank requires time, patience, service, bribes, taboos, and no little hazing.

Worshipers: Guildsmen, of any of the craft guilds, for the temple and its patriarch were central to the founding of the guilds more than four centuries ago. At least, any guildsman who knows what’s good for him stops by and makes an offering at least once a month, lest his “luck” run out and the “gods” burn down his store, break his legs, or cause boils to erupt on his bottom.

The temple is also one of the few favored by illusionists and magic-users — those who do not find what they seek at the Temple of Thoth or the Hell-Bridge Temple will almost certainly find acceptance here. Thieves, interestingly, also tend to worship at this temple, though the Guildmaster, like the Overlord, does not favor any one temple over others.

Priesthood: Clerics, magic-users, and illusionists; though the temple is strongly Chaotic, anti-paladins are few and far between.

Patriarch: Mung the Sinister, Cardinal of the Temple of Pegana and Grand Master of the Union of Craft Guilds. AKA the Undying, the Immortal, and the Master of Death. Some say he is a demi-god or godling; others claim he is a demon or devil. He is certainly no one to be trifled with, even without his Beast.

Alignment: Neutral or Chaotic, though even Lawful craftsmen worship here regularly (if they know what’s good for them). Most initiates and priests are Chaotic, and clerics must be Chaotic to rise above 6th level.

Symbol: The Sign of Mung, as it is known, is a bone-white hand, palm facing forward, with fingers slightly spread out. A more esoteric symbol is a right triangle in a circle in a square.

Enemy Gods: None particularly, as none of the other gods really think much of the “petty gods and broken godlings” revered by the Pegana, let alone their “empty and hollow” holy of holies.

Regular Worshiper’s Benefits: Training. The faithful can get discount training for any craft, even many covered by one of the other major faiths. Also, networking, as at the Temple Tempter, only exclusively among the guildsmen and arcane practitioners. You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services, events, and training.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to learn Lenapashim, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services, events, and training.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast mending. Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services, events, and training.

Afterlife: The Book of Wonder speaks of many things, but oddly enough it mentions nothing about the afterlife. Common belief among the faithful is that the soul goes on to a Celestial paradise, awaiting the next world, there to be reborn as a godling with the power of MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI. When asked, Cardinal Mung just shrugs his shoulders and says, “With the gods, it is always NOW. So why worry?”

Monday, July 3, 2017

[City State of the Invincible Overlord] Religions of the CSIO Part 1

RELIGIONS OF THE CITY STATE
Part 1 of 3

More than 30 significant pantheist religions and cults are practiced in the City State, together with numerous small independent cults representing more than 300 gods. Of these, nine religions and cults are regularly practiced by more than 60,000 citizens, while less than 40,000 citizens follow the other 23.

Note that most religions and the gods thereof are polytheistic, in that they do not demand exclusive worship on the part of members and worshipers. Only the Mycretians, followers of the Lone God, Mycr, are monotheistic (some might say, dangerously so, or they would be, were they not pacifists). Thus, the numbers mentioned above overlap, as a citizen will attend the ceremonies of more than one deity or even pantheon. Only initiates and priests are required to remain exclusive to their religion, and in the case of a pantheon, even they may revere more than one god!

There are five levels of worship, the level of which allows greater access to the benefits of the faith:

Irregular: An irregular worshiper shows up at services at least once a month and on one or more holy days a year, and provides a minimal monthly donation, depending on his social level and the financial expectations of the temple. Irregular worshipers may be of any alignment. If the worshiper has not otherwise declared a patron faith or god, the soul of the deceased will possibly (30%) be judged according to the tenets of this faith, if judged at all.

Regular: Regular worshipers show up at weekly services at least twice a month, attend services most holy days, provide at least 2.5% of their income as a donation, and have developed a friendly relationship with at least one or two members of the clergy so that they recognize them on sight. If the worshiper has not otherwise declared a patron faith or god, the soul of the deceased will usually (60%) be judged according to the tenets of this faith, if judged at all.

Semi-Exclusive: Semi-exclusive worshipers show up at least once a week at services when they are in town, and seek out another temple or to perform their own small service at least once a week when they are away, attend all holy days and sponsor them to whatever extent they can, and provide at least 5% of their income as a donation. If the worshiper has not otherwise declared a patron faith or god, the soul of the deceased will most likely (90%) be judged according to the tenets of this faith, if judged at all.

Initiate: Initiates are exclusive worshipers of a single temple pantheon and/or deity, and attend every service possible, even if daily, and perform all required rituals on their own when unable to attend a service. The god is their “Patron God.” They actively participate in services, especially on holy days, and provide at least 10% of their income as a tithe, if not more. Initiates are considered “lay clergy,” and some go on to become priests. Initiates are generally found at the lowest level of the temple’s hierarchy, though if they have wealth and/or political power, they can rise higher. Souls of initiates are guaranteed to be judged by the tenets of their patron faith and god, though of course, the proper burial rituals must still be made, or soul still must be significant enough to be noticed to be judged.

Priest: Priests of a deity possess levels in a spell-casting class and exclusively revere the temple pantheon and/or deity. Most clergy tithe at least 20% up to 100% of all their wealth to their temple, lead rituals during regular and holy day services; and can move up in the temple hierarchy. Priests can include anti-paladins, bards, clerics, druids, illusionists, magic-users, monks, paladins, rangers, sages, and shamans. Note that not all spell-casters, even clerics, are part of a temple hierarchy! Souls of priests are guaranteed to be judged by the tenets of their patron faith and god, though of course, the proper burial rituals must still be made, or soul still must be significant enough to be noticed to be judged.

ALIGNMENT IN THE WILDERLANDS
The Wilderlands is a place with lots of shades of grey and only one great divide that matters, cosmologically speaking. I refer, of course, to Jeff’s Threefold Apocalyptic Alignments, based on the classic alignment system. Quoting and Paraphrasing Jeff:

Answer the quiz below to determine your alignment:

Ragnarok just started. Aligned on one side are Odin, Thor, Mitra, Re-Harakhte, Thoth, Daghdha, Nuada, Zeus, Apollo, and most of their pantheon members. On the other side are Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, Loki, Set, Orcus, and Asmodeus. Where does your PC stand?

A) I fight alongside Odin and Zeus!
B) I fight alongside Cthulhu and Set!
C) Where do I stand? Are you crazy? I get the hell out of there and find a place to hide!

If you answered A your character is Lawful.
If you answered B then your character is Chaotic.
If you chose C then you’re Neutral.

No other behavior matters for alignment purposes. Cosmically, everything else is just static, though your actions in life WILL matter when you die, as all gods have some sort of code of ethics, morals, taboos, or simple rules if you want in on the good stuff in the Afterworld.

Lawful types can fight wars against each other, as can Chaotic types. But if two Chaotic groups are fighting and the Lawful types attack, be prepared for those Orcs and Goblins to suddenly act like fast friends.

Conversely, Lawful and Chaotic types can often get along just fine in everyday life; in many cities, they must get along, or the Powers That Be, who are more concerned with the Here and Now of the Secular World, will toss both lots outside the walls with little ceremony and no tears lost…

Good and evil, for purposes of detection spells and such, measure intentions. A man with malice on his mind detects as evil, no matter how good his previous deeds.

MAJOR RELIGIONS
60%+ of the citizenry bend their knee or at least drop a coin at one or more of these temples, usually once per week, but no less than once per month. These faiths are, in descending order of popularity and power:

1) FORN SIDTHR (“The Ancient Faith”)
Gods: Odin “The All-Father.” His wife, Frigga “Queen of Gods,” his son Thor “The Thunderer,” and Thor’s wife Sif “The Valkyrie” also have major shrines here, while votary offerings may also be made to Forseti the Justiciar, Heimdall the Watcher, Hermod Hellwalker, Odur Sun-Brother, and most other “goodly” Aesir.

Odin from the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Worshipers: Anyone, though especially those seeking wisdom, justice, strength in battle, peace and prosperity at home, and success in war abroad. Worship is so broad and deep in the City State that even the Overlord must make an appearance at this temple now and again, as do most nobles and other politicians who wish to remain in the good graces of the “common people.” Few fighters willingly leave the City State to go to battle without leaving an offering for Thor and Sif.

Priesthood: Mostly clerics, with a few bards, monks, paladins, and rangers. As wizardry is frowned upon by the faith, there are no illusionists, magic-users, or sages among the clergy, nor are there any druids or shamans.

Patriarch of the Faith: Ralibarn the Wise.

Alignments: Lawful and Neutral. Clergy must be Lawful to rise above 6th level as a cleric; Neutral clerics may only advance as far as 6th level.

Symbols: Stylized As rune for the pantheon; Odin’s Eye (Odin), Fehu rune (Frigga), hammer (Thor), and upraised long sword (Sif).

Enemy Gods and Demons: Loki, Hel, Fenris Wolf, Jormungandr, Surtur, and Thrymr, most especially, but the Aesir and their followers count any Chaos god or demon as enemies.

Regular Worshiper’s Benefit: Due to the broad and common worship of Forn Sidthr, basic benefits are few, save ready access and fair rates for the casting of spells, and free advice on most common troubles. Plus, the temple throws some of the best beer and brat parties in the city! You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services and parties.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to read and write Valonar, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services and parties.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast rune of protection (as protection from evil). Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services and parties.

Afterlife: The honored dead have a place prepared for them in Asgard, and the most valiant warriors a place at a table in Valhalla, where the brave may live forever, fighting giants and demons by day, and being raised again in time for the feast at night. The dishonorable dead are cast into Niflheim, Jotunheim, or Muspelheim, there to be the playthings of giants, demons, and worse until Ragnarok. The truly evil dead are either consumed by the Fenris Wolf or condemned to walk the world of the living as draugr, a cursed variety of undead.

You can get the full lowdown on Forn Sidthr in Wilderlands: Faiths of the City State: Forn Sidthr.

2) TRISM EGISTUS (“The Temple of Knowledge”)
Gods: Thoth “The Thrice Great.” His wife, Seshat “She Who Scrivens,” is also revered at the temple (male priests serve Thoth, female priestesses serve Seshat). Followers of other “goodly” deities of the Ennead, the gods of Alt Ghinor (Egyptian), especially Re-Harakhte, Osiris, and Isis, may perform rituals and leave votary offerings for their gods at a small pantheist shrine in the temple. There is also a special shrine devoted to Thoth’s good friend, Ganesha (of the Telanghan faith), with a handful of clerics in attendance.

Thoth from the Marvel Comic Book Universe
Worshipers: Anyone, though especially those seeking wisdom, knowledge, truth, and arcane secrets. Most magic-users and sages leave an offering before setting out on a quest for knowledge and secrets. Thoth is served by magic-users, both in the priesthood and outside the hierarchy.

Priesthood: Mostly clerics, though with a significant minority of magic-users and sages, and a handful of monks. The small resident priesthood of Isis also includes magic-users, while the priesthood of Re-Harakhte includes no few paladins.
 
Patriarch of the Faith: Krongil the Prudent.

High Priestess of Seshat: Memnerbeth the Rubricatrix.

Alignments: Lawful and Neutral. Neutral clergy are not limited to 6th level of advancement. Clergy of Re-Harakhte, Osiris, and Isis must be Lawful.
 
Symbols: An ankh for the pantheon; an ibis for Thoth, a stylized hemp leaf for Seshat, the Eye of Ra for Re-Harakhte, crossed crook and flail for Osiris, and five-pointed upright star for Isis.

Enemy Gods and Demons: Set is the primary enemy of the pantheon; Harmakhis is close behind. These gods also loathe Asmodeus and his ranks of devils (which have encroached on their native homelands in the Southern Reaches) and the various ranks of Demon Princes and such ilk who serve Harmakhis.

Regular Worshiper’s Benefits: The sage priests of the temple are far more willing to deal with those seeking knowledge than the School of Ancient Knowledge or the Sage’s Guild, often willing to barter services for knowledge and wisdom, whereas the school requires proper social connections and the guild requires cold, hard coin. With non-believers, the priests are no less demanding of coins than any guild sage. You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting and sage services.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to read and write Ghinorian, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services and sage services.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast sanctuary. Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services and sage services.

Afterlife: Those whose sins balance with the Feather of Ma’at are granted a place in the Seven Halls of Fair Ament, where eternity will go on much as did life, while those whose sins are lighter than the Feather of Ma’at and whose accomplishments are great are granted estates in the Offering Fields amid the palaces of the gods. Those whose heart is heavier than the feather will be consumed by the beast, Am’mit, in whose bowels the damned will writhe for all eternity. However, as the faithful believe each person has five souls, various fates for each may be in store after death...

3) HADAWY HATANAR (“The Temple of Offerings”)
Gods: Harmakhis “The Dark Sun,” “Son of the Damned,” the “Ebon Sphinx.” Harmakhis worship comes from distant Alt Ghinor, out of time immemorial. Harmakhis is no longer openly worshiped there, for he is an outcast, like his father, Set.


http://tj-illustrates.tumblr.com/
Awesome art by Travis Purvis
Rumors that he is, in fact, a Tharbrian deity are actively denied by the hierarchy of the City State (who favor the trappings and rituals of Alt Ghinor), though cults of Donn and Harmakhis outside the City State have other beliefs. Some sages believe that when he was young, and hunted by his brother-cousin Re-Harakhte, Harmakhis hid among the Wild Men ancestors of the Tharbrians, and was deified by them with the name Donn.

Harmakhis is a greedy, jealous god, and allows the worship of no other gods at his temples, not even his father, Set, though the priesthood has a budding professional relationship with the clergy of the Hell-Bridge Temple, often trading tips on summoning fiends and raising guardian baboons, or so it is said. Also, Harmakhis has many demon servitors, who serve his priests and sometimes, his followers. It is said that the god is in attendance personally at every sacrifice, though the truth of this is known only to his priesthood.

Worshipers: Anyone, though few can be said to truly worship Harmakhis. Placate him, yes. Bribe him, certainly. But few worship him, save those who have an unhealthy concern for death, dying, or serial murder. Many who wish someone dead leave offerings at his temple — offerings which include slaves, for human life is his required sacrifice, no less than one soul being offered up to him each day at his temple, more on holy days.
 
Priesthood: Almost entirely clerics, with a few magic-users who specialize in summoning demons, and a handful of anti-paladins.

Patriarch: Unknown to the public.

Alignments: Chaotic and Neutral; even Lawful types make appearances at his temple, to make offerings of placation. His clergy are almost universally Chaotic, and must be Chaotic to rise above 6th level.
 
Symbols: The stylized mask of a hieracosphinx; sometimes this is surmounted by a pair of Ghinorian-style hawk wings.

Enemy Gods: All the Lawful gods of Alt Ghinor, especially his brother-cousin Re-Harakhte, his mother Isis, her husband Osiris, and most of the rest of the Ghinorian gods. His own father, Set, rejects him (for his part, he has betrayed Harmakhis no fewer times than he has himself been betrayed). Mitra is also a notable enemy, as they crossed blades no few times over the millennia, usually when he was in service to his father. The Tharbrian and Tharbriana gods are no friends of his due to a long-held feud.

Regular Worshiper’s Benefits: You are low on the list to be sacrificed, and can readily replace your draw with a slave. You get regular invitations to the Orgy of Blood and other low-level special events. A very cult-like temple, most benefits accrue to those inducted into the “Inner Mysteries.” You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to read and write Demonic, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast mask evil (the reverse of detect evil). Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Afterlife: The living faithful exist to curry favor with Harmakhis through sacrifice and ritual. Those who please Harmakhis in this life will be guaranteed a place of service in his palace in the Seven Scarlet Hells. Those who fail him will be the playthings of his demons — dogma states that any who worship other gods before Harmakhis will suffer this doom, as the other “gods” are nothing but the lies of false priests and sorcerers.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

[WOHA 2017] Starting a New Wilderlands Campaign

For the last several months I have had the pleasure of actually playing 5E Dungeons & Dragons rather than running the game. I suffered some severe burnout there back at the end of last autumn, and so other players in the group took over behind the screen. The simple pleasure of just playing again has recharged my gaming batteries, and I am getting a hankering to run once more.
 
After lots of thought, and making sure the group was willing to delve into some Old School play, I've decided I will run Advanced Labyrinth Lord (ALL, LL+AEC) with a few homebrew rules (natch), and the setting will be my perennial favorite, Judges Guild's Wilderlands (my own personal version, the Wilderlands of High Adventure).
 
And so the planning has begun; I do not intend to begin the campaign until after summer is over, as summer invariably causes missed sessions. Plus, two of the other players are in the midst of their excellent campaigns, so I will wait until one of them finishes, at the very least.
 
So planning has begin, and with this campaign I am taking full advantage of my Hexographer program. The campaign will begin and center on the City State of the Invincible Overlord; while that hex was mapped on the back of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy book and the front of the Campaign Hexagon System book, it needed the Hexographer treatment, as I've added a few things to it here and there...
 
And so here is the beginning of the new Wilderlands of High Adventure campaign. I hope to share the details of it with you fine readers, from the character's perspective, in the following weeks and months...
 
As usual, if you need the full-sized map, just let me know...
 
Click to embiggen (Version 7)