Posts Tagged With: Dearth

A Short Synopsis & Minor Treatise On the History & Nature of Creation (Part 2 – The Antediluvian Era)

(Estimated Timeline -250,000 to -5000 RA)

Rise of the Elder Kingdoms

In the Mortal Realm, new life sprung up in the wake of the destruction wrought by the War. The Fae live a life circling around their Great Tree hidden in the center of the Golden Woods, the Dragons sought out place wild and desolate and beautiful to contemplate Creation and the nature of the Thirteen Great Gods. But new life also arose, echoes of dead Gods, influenced by the memory writ upon the world by what had happened. So there came forth the Serpent Kings, the Weavers of Spells, the Dragonborn, the Consanguinity, the Bringers of Fate, the Gatekeepers, the Ichneumon Vorre, the Wind Giants, the Deep Ones, and many more besides.

The First City

It is the Serpent Kings, the Serpathians, who truly dominate the Mortal Realms in the Antediluvian Era. They create the First City, living what was at first a deeply contemplative life in the warm sun. A wondrous edifice that sprawled across leagues of land and sea, the First City was the first hub of mortal civilization. But with the cycles of light and darkness, the Serpathian’s began to delve into matters better left untouched, uncontemplated, and unexplored. Slowly as the Serpathians gave themselves over to longer and deeper periods of hibernation and sleep, aided by sorceries and alchemy, ever-seeking more truth and more power they inevitably begin to become infected with the Dearth, the dream-taint of the memory of the unmade Great Old Ones.

The War in Heaven and the Fall of Angels

Ever vigilant, the Celestials experiment in the Vale of ‘Aden, and create new life in Their own image, Humans, trying to find a new tool, a new weapon in case some new threat emerges that threatens Creation. There grows to be discontent in the Eternal City and greatest among the Celestials, the Morningstar, argues about the role of the Sarim in the Mortal Realms. The Lightbringer, as the Morningstar is also known, seeing what is occurring amongst the newly born races advocates for active engagement and even rulership among the mortals. The opposing side, does not wish to get involved in affairs of mortals and instead advocates for a continuation of passive guardianship. Stealing into the Vale, the Morningstar convinces the First Man and the First Woman to leave, setting them loose upon the Mortal Reams after teaching them much lore, more, it must be said, than he intended. This is the start of the War in Heaven and the Fall of the Angels. The Lightbringer and his angels take up residence opposite the Eternal City in the great Abyss maintaining watch over the great gate of the Void. The Celestials decided to spread the children of the First Humans across the Mortal Realms to see how if they survive and if they will thrive despite adversity.

The Rise of Man

Spread across the Mortal Realms by design, they wander freely curious and free of fear due to their birth in ’Aden, but eventually come together. To the great sorrow of the Celestials they also war amongst themselves and several tribes establish themselves, some say thirteen to match the Great Gods, but they found what was soon known as the Second City – an edifice that rivals the now lost First City of the Serpent Kings. Watching their pain and suffering, the Celestials take mercy upon them and some, known as the Grigori, come down to the Mortal Realms to teach and aid them. Unfortunately these Celestials are not suited for Mortal Realm and end up ensnared in their lusts of the flesh, not quite Falling, but still being cast out from Heaven. Out of their liaisons with humanity come the inhuman Nephalim who are still feared to this day.

The Decline of the Elder Kingdoms

Elsewhere, after millennia of exploration, contemplation, and growth, the Weavers of Spells destroyed themselves in a spectacular magical display, with only a few survivors now existing and trying to regain their lost glory. The Serpathians became lost in their hibernation and dreams and their slave-races and servants rose up to usurp their place and power until now only degenerate remnants of the once proud race exist, eking out a primitive existence in jungles and swamps across Creation. The other Elder Races see similar declines, some greater, some lesser, and many find their fates irrevocably linked to end of the Antediluvian Era.

The Thrice-Blessed and Thrice-Cursed

The Fae also meet the humanity for the first time as humanity matures and the Second City grows in power and influence. Ilhiedrin, the Thrice-Blessed, the first half-elf, is born to the King of all the Fae from his mortal lover. While this love child is a marvel, there are some within the Fae who are uneasy about the commingling of the blood of the two races. Ilhiedrin rises to be the greatest mage that the world has seen at this point but jealousy grows in his heart and he makes a great mistake as he descends into madness. Passing beyond the Veils, Ilhiedrin becomes the Thrice-Cursed when he breaks the great seal at the bottom of the Abyss and uncovers the truth of the Great Old Ones in his search for power.

Where there is memory, there is imagination;

where there is imagination, there is Essence;

where there is Essence, there is Form.

The War Without End

When Ilhiedrin unleashed the Great Old Ones upon creation again it was not complete, and what was able to manifest has become known as the Five Demon Emperors. They found Themselves greatly restricted by a multiverse that is far less fluid and They are barred from true entry. Even so, Their baleful influence spreads and the War Without End is rekindled as the Shadaoin are created and walk free within the Mortal Realms. Whole civilizations rise and fall during this time, shaped and wracked by the conflict. The Sorcerer-Kings of Engis-Erkrath rise up almost overnight and are destroyed from within, their own people rebelling against their domineering and tyrannical ways – and stand to this day as guards against such a thing occurring again, witnesses to the madness that is the War Without End.

Sundering of the Fae

After the loss of the Queen of Elvendome and her heir, the decision is made by the Fae to work a great enchantment and raise the Twilight Mists between the realm of the Fae and the Mortal Realm, creating a safe haven that can remain uncorrupted by the Dearth. This in turn is greatly contested by others among the Fae and causes the Sundering as the Sha’Achtar leave their brethren to pursue the War Without End in their own way, carving out their own Shadowlands on the edge of Death and Destruction so as to find and meet the Great Old Ones and the Lords of Dearth before they can corrupt reality even more than they already have. The effort is not entirely successful, and even in Faerie the Dearth has a foothold while the Shadowlands remain the first battleground against the Lords of Dearth as the Sha’Achtar intended even if the Realm itself is a darker and more dangerous place than was intended.

The Invoked Devastation 

After the Twilight Mists rise and the Shadowlands expand, the War Without End continues to raze the Mortal Realm without mercy or hope as the Dearth taints it and Creation rebels against itself. The Primordial Gods, finally roused from their contemplation, bring about the Invoked Devastation, destroying the Second City in Fire and Flood. Its status as a seat of goetic perversion in the wake of Ilhiedrin’s crimes a cancer on the face of Creation. While the Celestial Fires are specific, raising Thalath in a Great Flood is far from specific and much of the Mortal Realms affected, and the effects are felt even into Faerie and the Shadowlands.

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A Short Synopsis & Minor Treatise On the History & Nature of Creation (Part 1 – The Primordial Era)

So here is the history of the multiverse as the most wise and learned of the elder races would tell it, various races certainly have different versions, and as one could imagine, the further back in time (like this section) the more likely that the exact details may vary. This myth, though true, is also metaphor, because reality was even more fluid in those times than it is now.

The Time Before Time

The Multiverse is an endless Maelstrom of Essence, defined by Light and Darkness. Some say that the Darkness is winning against the Light, others say that the Light continues to grow in an eternal Darkness – but in Light there is Creation and in Darkness there is Destruction. In the Time before Time there were those known now as the Great Old Ones by the fearful and the wise. They moved through the Maelstrom, and as Their forms were illuminated by the Light of Creation and out of Their dreaming death, for life was not yet known, They birthed the Thirteen Great Gods out of Their imagination.

Creation

These Thirteen Great Gods brought, not by design, but merely by Their existence, Order out of Chaos. The imprint of Their Presence, bathed in both Light and Darkness created not just the Elemental Realms out of the Essence of the Maelstrom, but the Aeythrs with connect them, defined by the relationships of the Thirteen to Themselves and each other. As the weave and the weft of the Aethyrs were woven, the Endless Ocean, defined by the meeting of Air and Water, warmly illuminated by the Light of Creation, and in the Great Deeps the Underdark was carved out of Earth by Fire, hidden in Darkness and Destruction. In this new Order, life came into being, and grew quickly, tempered always by the quickening of the chaos that was the Maelstrom.

The Great Old Ones

And through all of this, the Great Old Ones took forms terrible and fantastic, defined by Their own unquiet dreams and racked by a slow and painful birth into a Multiverse increasingly defined by physical form and concrete thought. And as They woke, They found an existence that pained Them, forced to wakefulness and form, drained by an effort to exist that They never desired, defined by that which They had unwittingly created. It was a narrative that would engrained upon the multiverse, parents supplanted by their children, jealous and resentful of their progenies achievements.

Birth of the Gods

In the endless ripples of Essence that are reactions to actions, the waking of the Great Old Ones attracted the notice of Thirteen Great Gods, and that attention manifested itself, in the face of resentment growing to hatred, of children, now known as the Primordial Gods, that were themselves reflections of the Thirteen. The Primeval Dragons, the Lords of Light, the Children of the Stars, the Stonekin, the Empyreans, the Beast-Lords, and many other and varied Powers that then themselves imagined and created a home of perfection and beauty, the Paradise, ‘Aden, rising out of Thalath, rooted in the Underdark, nestled in the heart of all things, a deity-dream given form.

The Rape of ‘Aden

‘Aden was glorious, a shining example of the dreams of the Gods and That Which Defined Them (which is how they referred to the Thirteen). The elegance of ‘Aden’s Form was a burning song in the heart and soul of Beings that had neither, creating pain that had never existed before in creation – that words like “longing” and “hopelessness” cannot capture. Drawn like moths to a flame, the Great Old Ones moved towards ‘Aden, the Great Old Ones leaving corruption in Their wake, infecting creation itself with Their Essence, distorting all They came into contact with. It was at ‘Aden that the Multiverse, shuddered, twisted, and shattered in an effort to preserve itself – for Paradise cannot be corrupt and yet corruption now dwelt in its heart. And to preserve it, two of the greatest of the Celestial Host made a sacrifice so that all else would survive, thought it would unleash a great sorrow in the wake of what They imagined and gave Form, for that was Death and the End of All Things.

The Goetic War

With Death at Their side, the Primordial Gods were able to beat back Great Old Ones, preserving ‘Aden, but creating three greats Realms defined by Destruction, Mortality, and finally Death itself as the Great Old Ones were herded towards the Veils of Creation, driven to the heart of the Darkness and beyond, far past Existence and Form, until that which was Eternal was Unmade. The memory of Their presence was imprinted in the world, however, and it lingered, and the Multiverse was scarred in the aftermath of the War for Creation. Some of the Primordial Gods had died, others had been corrupted and lost to the Dearth, many had been wounded, and in all Their attention turned inward for a time nursing Themselves in the steadfasts and redoubts They had built during the War. From the shed blood of the Primordial Gods and the patterns continually cast in the echo of the Great Gods came new life, first raised as Hosts and Legions in the War for Creation, and then as guardians and caretakers. Celestials and Fae, Dragons and Elementals, Stonekin and Waterborn, all began to find their place and role in Creation.

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Monster Types and some thoughts on the Monster Manual

While the roots of this exist in 1E, I’m sure that this concept really dates from some later edition. This is one of those really interesting rules that I like for all sorts of reasons, and then hate because I can’t decide if it is a typology or taxonomy (and, in fact, it’s a bit of both) – the minute you start kitbashing your own monsters and have a significantly different cosmology from the implied setting (no matter how much you are applying your own rules of Gygaxian Naturalism) is the minute that the given Types have a tendency to fall apart. That said, the whole Tag system may also give some help in that.

So, “old rules” I had the Dearth – which wasn’t quite Undead, wasn’t quite a Fiend, wasn’t even automatically an Abberation – almost more of a Monstrosity according to the descriptions. Except of course that it “feels” more like a Fiend or an Undead. But, now I could simply say it is any of those types (as fits best) with a Dearth tag.

That example is pretty easy. The one that gets a bit more dicey for me is Trolls – in my head, Trolls, Giants, Ogres,  and Goblins are four categorically different things. In the new version however, Trolls, Giants, and Ogres are “the same thing” while Goblins are Humanoids. Now, in some ways this is not such a bit deal – except when we get to Rangers and they get to choose Enemies that they get bonuses against. I suppose that the best answer is to simply say that they roll with it – but then I’d have to figure out what counts as a Humanoid given that my list of humanoid races is way, way shorter in some ways.

I do really like the idea of unaligned creatures – that is much more elegant than the old neutral catch-all. Similarly, I like the appendix in the back for “normal creatures” (even though it includes wargs and winter wolves and  a handful of other things that seem to be anything but normal) but I still hate the whole NPC’s as a stat block as opposed to being a character class. Yes, I’m sure that this will save all sorts of people all sorts of time – but I really don’t think it takes that much time to write up (or end up having memorized) an NPC  either as a “0-level” or as a leveled character class.

I’m hoping that the DMG actually clears this up – the relationship between the “average man around town” and a PC. In 1E it was clear that the PC was an exceptional, heroic type – but that isn’t quite so clear in this set of rules. There is a hint or two of it, but it is unclear what makes a Noble get two Hit Dice and a Parry and Cultists also get two Hit Dice and Dark Devotion or a Scout gets three Hit Dice plus Keen Hearing and Sight. It all just seems to be a poorly thought out way to make different professions different without giving them a character class. Or something.

TTFN!

D.

 

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So who does my character worship..?

So, ckutalik over at Hill Cantons has a nice post about religion and gaming. Now, what many folks don’t know about me is that at one time I seriously considered a career as a minister, though my Calling found another expression eventually. With that piece of information in place, you can imagine that religion and spirituality play an important place in my game worlds.

I’ve really run the gamut. In the old days, the very early days, I took a page from Katherine Kurtz and ran with a direct analog of the Catholic Church – which was also rather nice because I used the Deryni in my game world as well. The “Old Faith” was an amalgam of Celtic myth and modern NeoPaganism, and pretty much all real world religion existed in one form or another – there was the “Church of the Divine Couple” for the Egyptian mythology, and the Northmen worshipped the Norse and Finnish Deities. Pretty much if it was in Deities and Demigods I was willing to include it. I also ran with the Greyhawk deities as they came out, the Forgotten Realms deities when they came out, and I have always used the Cthulhu Mythos as well as the Moorcockian Courts of Chaos. For the nonhumans I pretty much ran with whatever the “flavor of the day” was, though it was always somewhat oddly incorporated at times to try to make sense of the multiple different, “hard polytheistic”, pantheons.

But currently, religions and spirituality have gone through a handful of more recent evolutions as I’ve tried to get away from “ripped from reality” and more “inspired by reality” combined with “entirely fabricated”…

To start with big bag guys, the ones that pretty much everyone agrees are worth banding together to fight against are the Five Demon Emperors and the servants of the Dearth as worshipped by what is commonly known as the Cult of Shator under the auspices of the King in Yellow. These are combination of the Great Old Ones or the Outer Gods of the Cthulhu Mythos. Their very existence, even as a thought, brings corruption and destruction to multiverse. More than unbridled Chaos, more than simply Entropy, they are literally Nothingness made manifest. (Evil)

One of the oldest human religions is known as the Heptarchy by sages, a pantheon of seven deities made up of the Lady Night and her children, and the Twin Brothers of the Perihelion (and their dark triplet) and the Three Sisters of the Perilune. Found in both urban and rural settings, the Heptarchy is quite popular, though each deity maintains it’s own religious hierarchy. Relationships between the deities and their cults vary, but are generally neutral or good as none of the deities are in active conflict or direct opposition – save perhaps the relationship between the Midnight Sun and his two brothers.

There is the Old Faith – a pantheistic worship of nature, it’s cycles and its elements, the manifest spirits of which are often referred to as “the Old Powers” by both humans and the gnomes. The Old Faith is highly organized, with twin orders of male and female druids, along with the a variety of warrior societies (most famously the Rangers) organized into lodges. (Generally Neutral)

Then there is the Society of the Light – a religion originally inspired by Augustine’s notion of the “City of God” and then mixed in with healthy doses of early Jewish, Christian, and Islamic custom and belief along with a good dash of Sikhism. It is marked by a hierarchical relationship of mortals and the Sarim (the ruling angels), overseen in the Mortal Realms by the Council of Devas in Kistath. It has a multiple Rules, and one significant heresy (the Trinitarians) based on the actual spiritual and physical union of mortal and angels. (Mostly Lawful Good and some other Goods and Neutrals)

In opposition to the Society of Light there is what is often termed “the Horned Society” – the cults and organizations devoted to the Fallen (Angels) in what is in many ways a mirror image of the SOL. The War in Heaven and the Fall was fundamentally one of philosophical difference in how to pursue the War Without End against the Dearth. (Mostly LE, some other Evils and Neutrals)

In Thule, the worship of the Freyja the All-Mother is most popular. The pantheon, the Æsir, is greater than just the All-Mother, but after the Ragnarök there were few survivors and Freyja was the greatest among them and took the high seat of Hliðskjálf. Her servants, the Valkyrja, continue to choose the worthy among the slain to serve her as einherjar in Valhalla. (Generally Good and Neutral)

The Khemeti are also known as the Church of the Divine Couple, the Khemeti are among the eldest of the organized religions – perhaps not even originally of humankind. It is said that the Khemeti arose out of the Great Chaos at the beginning of Creation when Ptah and Ma’at created a sense of Order and Logic in the random Chaos. Currently they are worshipped primarily in Kistath, they have a very small Cult in the Heartlands and are essentially nonexistent in Thule. (Lawful)

The elves have, at their heart, a spirituality that is governed by “Li’vicor” or the idea of “Ruling Passion” or “True Will” – while at the same time having an appreciation for the universe that is similar to the pantheistic view of the Old Faith combined with a respect for the “E’lin” (the “Elect”) who seem to have a special relationship with what the Old Faith would call the Old Powers. (Good)

The dwarves don’t speak of their spirituality or religion, but seem concerned with “forging their souls” and “anvil of the world” by those outsiders that they trust enough to speak about such things with. They also have a great venerance for the living stone and their ancestors, how this all fits together is unknown. (Lawful)

There is also the En Khoda Theos Kirk – the Dragonborn’s Kirk (Church) with its worship of the four “Great Dragons” that are generally thought to encompass various aspects of the natural world and the elements. A complex religion, there is no higher authority than each kirk’s Dorje (priest), and it is a deeply contemplative religion that focuses on meditative practice, often in a monastic or other secluded setting. Primarily followed by the Dragonborn it is also followed a surprising number of members of other races and small Kirks can be found in most major cities. (All Alignments)

The Teotl is the pantheon of the Old Gods of Ith. A bloody state religion marked by human sacrifice and the veneration of the Ithian Serpent Folk. Of all the major human religions, it is the one that is closest in some ways to the philosophies of the non-human races and has it’s roots in the mysticism of the Serpathians.  (Neutral and Evil)

The goblins, ogres, and trolls worship the Formorians, a collection of beings known as “the Goblin Court”. Generally hateful and destructive, the Goblin Court is still opposed to Dearth and Arras-Kol, the Great Goblin, is ever vigilant for the seeds of corruption in his children. (Evil)

The Lords of Chaos – The greatest of the powers of Chaos, sometimes known as the Wyld, often accept worship and service in exchange for favor. With some of their members being corrupted by the Dearth (known as the Forsaken, Tiamat and Typhon), they are quick (perhaps overly quick) to act against the Five Demon Emperors. (Chaotic)

Then there are the Godlings, sometimes known as the Disparate Names, a mixture of demigods, quasi-deities, and lesser deities that work alone, in conjunction with, and in opposition to themselves and the other pantheons. They are commonly described and organized in what is called the Lords Tarot, though this may be a purely human invention rather than a true reflection of the Godlings actual relationships (All Alignments).

Finally, opposing and at the same time including the Dearth are the Bel En Khoda – the Thirteen Great Gods. These are almost like reified Platonic Forms. Though, truthfully, this isn’t worship (save in the Shadowlands where the Unborn are revered above all), but their presence is always acknowledged, by everyone with any level of mystical or magical knowledge, and many mystical or spiritual organizations are essentially organized around a philosophical allegiance to one of them even if it doesn’t exactly qualify as “worship”. (All Alignments)

I’ll probably detail those out more in future posts.

TTFN!

D.

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