Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Gods!

The Northern Realm started as a spinoff of D&D 3.5e. The first rendition departed somewhat from its roots but never made it too far beyond what Pathfinder did with D&D, except for some notable differences. I never liked the D&D concept of gods. I think if I were going to have gods in the way that D&D does gods, I would make them more direct actors in the world, somewhat in the way the Greek Pantheon is always messing with mortals. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking D&D, it's just not how I'd do it.

Instead, I opted for 'Gods' whose existence is less than certain. Some gods are misconstrued, some are appropriated, while others are gods only in fairy tales and stories, powerful beasts, old heroes or tyrants or benevolent monarchs, or creatures of other dimensions. Generally, the older the story of the being is the more likely they are considered a god (at least by the local populace). 

Creatures or beings that are not all powerful gods can't see if you are sleeping or if you've been bad or good for goodness sake, so they also can't grant you spells or powers. I've opted for learned cantrips and orisons, a ritual-like spell that clerics and dhampirs have learned from the cult of their deity. I fully intend on making this customizable. A cult of the masters from Blackburn may learn a different ritual (orison) and cantrip from one in Keth. Players can even make up their own using the deity's description and example of an orison as a guide. Ultimately I may need to shirk the 'Deity' title, but for the sake of simplicity it will stay as a placeholder.

The following are deities you may find in the Northern Realm:
The Masters

The Masters were once the great leaders of the Noble Dominion. Kamose, as known by his peers, or Valak the Tyrant, as known by his subjects, was their chief. He reigned from his seat in Gorhithe, which would later be called the Free City. After the slaughter of the Ancients, Valak ruled unchallenged for a hundred years. Only by the ambitions of the other Masters was his kingdom torn asunder and the people he ruled as thralls rose up to depose him. The Masters are a forgotten force in the kingdoms of man. Only the oldest of records remember their deeds. And yet secret cults persist. They worship the Masters and pass their secret knowledge down through the generations. In the great houses of the old realm their memory survives.
 
All powers granted by the Masters require an offering of blood.

The Masters are not known by their true names. The following names are listed in order of their true names, but in the histories and even the secret blood cults they are known by the name as given in the description. For example, Kamose is known as Valak.  


Eshe

Orison:  Invade the dreams of living creatures. Perform the blood ritual, spend 1 Power each, and enter a sleep-like trance. You must have an object of emotional value, a piece of the targets, or know their names. Once in a dream you may aid the target against incursions, attempt to wake it, or impose your will on it by leaving subtle suggestions or disturbing its sleep. To aid a target, roll yours and its Will resistance check whenever necessary and take the higher result. To disturb its sleep or implant a Suggestion, successfully roll an opposing Will resistance check. You may only occupy one dream at a time. This is a mind-affecting ability.

Cantrip: Deep Slumber.

Eshe is known as the matron noble, also Mara the Black. She is perhaps the only noble besides Arahn that is said to rival Valak in power. She alone of the 7 Masters ruled apart from the Noble Dominion. Her realm was at the northern edge of the Great Fen, near the upland basin that feed into Lake Mél. She is remembered as a master of dreams and visions. Few cults worship her. She is usually depicted on a throne or symbolically as a black rose or simply by her personal rune. Strangely she appears to have some connection to Mororíganís, queen of the fae. The reasons for this are unknown, but she is unmistakably depicted with Mororíganís in a number of engraved murals.

Kamose

Orison: Touch the mind of a living creature, leaving behind your subtle influence. Perform the blood ritual, indicate your targets, and spend 1 Power each. You must either know of the targets in detail, encountered them, or be able to name them. Affected targets are allowed a Will resistance check. On a failure the targets roll a detriment on any actions taken against you (and only you) until night turns to day or vice versa. This is a mind-affecting ability.

Cantrip: Dominate.

Kamose, the Magnificent, known as Valak the Tyrant Lord, is the chief of the 7 Masters. Valak ruled from his throne in Gorhithe. His power reached from the southern forests of Greywood to the plains of the Hereg. At its pinnacle, his power was such that the Grey retreated deep within their own kingdom and did not return, even after one hundred years of the Master’s waning power, until Valak himself was destroyed. Valak is sometimes referred to as the Lord of Death and Master of Unlife. He represents not only death, but dread and despair, despotism, and temptation. For generations of man, Valak was synonymous with the concept of evil, though that was not so for the servants that profited under him. He was known for rewarding loyalty, and though his gifts could be fickle, his vassals lived well. Valak is the most revered amongst the Masters and many cults are dedicated to him. He is depicted as a figure armored in black mail, a man upon a throne, or an armored figure with a skull for a head. Symbols that represent him are a clenched gauntlet, pointed crown, white chrysanthemum, and his personal rune.

Kashta

Orison: Confound the minds of living creatures. Perform the blood ritual, indicate your targets, and spend 1 Power each. You must either know of the targets in detail, encountered them, or be able to name them. Affected targets are allowed a Will resistance check. If it fails they do not recognize you until night turns to day or vice versa. They do not forget you or your past actions, they simply do not recognize you. If you act in a manner that the target or targets would be familiar with, they are allowed a second resistance check. This is a mind-affecting ability.

Cantrip: Living Story.

Kashta, or Evroul the Deceiver, claimed the north demesne near modern day Evleen Lake. He of all the Masters is considered the most benevolent. His denizens lived in relative peace for as long as they abided by his law. Despite the amity within the realm, those closest to Evroul are best described as mad or otherwise not living. Evroul is a master of illusion, and extraordinarily possessive. Evroul prized status quo above all other things, and coveted his possessions, which included all within his demesne. The littlest changes, including ones that could not be helped, such as a mine drying up, were not only unacceptable but against the law. Those who broke the law were dealt with swiftly. Evroul used illusions to maintain the appearance of unchange. It was once rumored that all the occupants of his castle were illusions. The libraries of Evroul though secret, are rumored to still exist. He is depicted in numerous engraved murals scattered about Evleen Lake. The murals depict a man in aristocratic garb. His symbols are a smiling mask (or face covered by a smiling mask), poppy, and his personal rune.

Keket

Orison: Choose a spell you know or have been the target of, once you complete the blood ritual you may cast the chosen spell as a cantrip. You retain the ability to cast this spell as a cantrip until night turns to day or vice versa.

Cantrip: Fugue.

Historians of the Free Realm often come across references of Keket, usually in reference to the night, which she represents. Without a particularly discerning eye, it is easy to confuse Keket with the Ancient Common word for night. Keket is rarely represented as humanoid. Unfortunately, her story is buried in obscure text. Few if any worship Keket, though discoveries in the west of the Great Fen have revealed a number of ruins with clearer references to her. From these ruins it is clear that she depicts not only the night, but mourning or sadness. She is shown with her face covered with a hand or as a crying woman, for that she is named the Weeper. Her symbols are a circle or a curious personal rune that resembles the rune of Valak.

The following is information unknown to the cults of the Masters, humanity, and most others: 
Keket was the once lover of Valak. Her land was once a rich forest, before the Great Fen swallowed it whole. Some time following Valak’s rise to power, Keket seemingly betrayed Valak. Valak responded with the destruction of her demesne. His retribution was not fully realized until all its inhabitants were slain and all built things thrown down. Valak left her land in desolation and her children murdered, but left Keket alive to observe the consequence of treason.

Maibe

Orison: Living creatures are inexplicably drawn to you. Perform the blood ritual, indicate your targets, and spend 1 Power each. You may roll twice and take the higher of two rolls on any Intuition based check concerning one of the targets. You must have an object of emotional value, a piece of each target, or know their names. This is a mind-affecting ability.

Cantrip: Mark of the Slave.

Maibe, the White Lady of Meren (sometimes shortened to Meren or the White Lady) was famous for her strange masquerades. The residents of her demesne lived in perpetual fear, perhaps greater than in any other place within the Noble Dominion. Meren was famous for mysterious disappearances and stories of creatures that would lure the hapless into the forest, never to return. Meren is located near present day Blackburn Lake. Maibe is depicted as a beautiful woman unclad or barefoot and garbed in a wispy dress. Her symbol is a budding red rose.

Menkare

Orison: Living creatures naturally adore you. Perform the blood ritual, indicate your targets, and spend 1 Power each. Your targets view you as a friend as if affected by a Charm spell the next time you meet. The effect lasts until night turns to day or vice versa. You must have an object of emotional value, a piece of each target, or know their names. This is a mind-affecting ability.

Cantrip: Choose one telepathy power from the Demon Magic power list.

Menkare, known as Arahn the Cruel was Valak’s most trusted advisor. His sudden disappearance emboldened his enemies, which may have led to Valak’s downfall. The Havren, however, tell a different tale and provide insight into Arahn’s elaborate manipulations and mental prowess. And though the Havren do not share this information, the cults of Arahn know something of his machinations. As Valak’s right hand, Arahn committed countless atrocities. He represents both cruelty and intellect. He is depicted at Valak’ side in most representations of the Masters. But when depicted alone, he is shown sitting upon a throne. Members of Arahn’s cult loyal to all the Masters would say this depiction shows Arahn as a steward in Valak’s absence, but those loyal to Arahn alone, would say it shows Arahn in his rightful place. His symbols include a longsword gripped with a bare hand, a spiral, and his personal rune.

Saa

Orison: Break the will of living creatures. Perform the blood ritual, indicate your targets, and spend 1 Power per target. You must either know of the targets in detail, encountered them, or be able to name them. Affected targets are allowed a Will resistance check. On a failure resistance check, one ability score (choose which) is rolled at a detriment until night turns to day or vice versa. This is a mind-affecting ability.

Cantrip: Bestial Strength.
 
Saa, known as Vedast the Savage, and (in secret) Vedast the Feral, was earl of the Noble Dominion’s southern territories. His vast demesne stretched from the Great Fen to Greywood and the whole north of the Hereg Plains. Vedast is associated with nature deities, representing the cruelty of nature and its unforgivingness. He is also associated with the hunt, and strangely, fairness. He like the other Masters, is surrounded with fantastic rumors, including one that he hunted his subjects, but also ones that claimed he stood against the other Masters at times, including against Valak, his liege lord. One of the tenants of the Vedast cults is the respect of strength. Still, Vedast is one of the most feared of the Nobles, famous for his unpredictable nature and ferocity. He is depicted as a hunter on horseback or a figure chasing prey on foot, sometimes armed, sometimes not, or as a huge wolf. His symbols are a wolf (sometimes with two heads), a wolf’s head, and his personal rune.