Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Forgotten Cults

One project that I considered was to use the Forgotten Realms maps for an alternative far future Glorantha, where Orlanth and the Red Moon fought to a standstill, and Jar-Eel ended up in a role akin to the Lady, out of Glen Cook's Black Company books. The campaign would be set long ages after the fall of the Red Dominion. The AD&D2 Complete Priests' Handbook is assumed. The inspiration was sparked when a player chose a priest of Strength with the Barbarian kit, and it looked a lot like a Storm Bull cultist…

Commentary

Mother Night is probably not an attractive choice for players; Lady Starbow will gather some women warriors; the Secret Moon is not really a player character option, given its secrecy and restrictions; the Blood Moon is a relict cult, found only in a few out-of-the-way places and usually despised. The Red Magic secrets it teaches are one of the prized posessions of the Red Wizards in their mountain lands, rumour of which makes them hated and feared beyond what their own efforts can achieve. Mistress Moon is a semi-fighting and partly mystic priesthood, suitable for player characters.

Mother Night

One of the nameless spirits of the Dark under the Earth, Mother Night first became noted when Thunder Father struck down Emperor Sun from his throne at Skytop. As the dying, bleeding Sun fell down the sky into the underworld, its inhabitants fled the sudden light. Mother Night led those who ascended into the sky, spreading her protecting cloak of darkness over the land, as she still does to this day.

She has only a small following, as she is content to spread her benefits to all, each night. Her importance is more mythological and practical than spiritual.

Alignment: True Neutral. Priests and worshippers may have any alignment.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wis 9

Races allowed: Any, though most common are creatures of the underdark.

Proficiencies: Recommended — Religion, Blind-fighting (no extra out-of-class cost).

Duties: Protecting those who are distressed by the raw light of the Sun.

Weapons and armour: Chain, shield, any club or similar blunt weapon.

Other Limitations: Function at -1 level in natural light, and half level (drop fractions) when in direct sunlight.

Spheres: major — All, Sun(reversed), Protection, Wards, elemental fire (reversed); minor — Healing, Necromantic.

The reversed form of Summon Fire Elemental summons an elemtal of darkness, with similar stats to a Fire elemental, whose attack has the effect of a Cause Fear along with regular damage.

Followers and strongholds: As a minor deity, her priests only have those followings they can personally attract.

Powers: Darksense (sonar based sense, including “acoustic daylight”, rather like dolphins); Hide in shadow 50%+5% per level, modified by race, armour and Dexterity as thieves; Carpe Noctem: Once per level per night, the priest may cause a 10' radius sphere of night's darkness around him or herself to become fixed, and endure through the coming day. If the priest has cast any spells during the day, one of the priest's choice is renewed at sunset.

Symbols: A black disk.

Lady Starbow

As Emperor Sun fell dying into the underworld, splashes of his burning blood fell onto the sky. When even Lord Gloaming, the least and last of the sons and retinue of the Emperor, had followed his master beneath the Earth, the spiritual nature of these bloodstains quickened them to life. Nurturing these last remnants of light came a hitherto nameless and despised sister of Lord Gloaming (the Sun having considered the only feminine spirits of worth to be the fertile Earth, and then worthy only for their fertility).

Defending Heaven and Earth against the encroaching Night, she took up the great Sky bow her father had let fall, defending each remaining spark until the Sun was finally freed from Hell.

Alignment: Neutral Good. Priests and worshippers may have any good alignment.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wis 12, Dex 12, Cha 12

Races allowed: Human, elf(except drow), half-elf; only women may advance beyond 4th level, and only those who have quested for and won a Unicorn mount beyond 8th.

Proficiencies: Required: Riding(land-based) Recommended - Religion, Blind-fighting, Tracking. Crossover: Priest, warrior.

Duties: Protecting the weak and oppressed, especially women.

Weapons and armour: Chain, shield, spear, lance, javelin, shortbow, short sword.

Other Limitations: Often despised by patriarchal Sun worshippers (her worship being most common in areas that revere

her father and brothers).

Spheres: major — All, Sun, Protection, Combat, Elemental Fire; minor — Healing, Necromantic.

Special spell: Shooting Star: as the mage spell Flame arrow, but the spell is cast on the weilder's bow, which then transfers the spell's effect onto each arrow fired and lasts until the maximum number of arrows have been affected, or one hour has elapsed. Detect Silver and Gold (1st level)

Followers and strongholds: As a minor deity, her priests only have those followings they can personally attract.

Powers: Infravison 60' (120' for elves and half-elves); May track as a ranger if there are stars visible in the sky if she has the Tracking proficiency. At 4th level, if virgin, may quest for a Unicorn mount (stats as for a Paladin's war horse). May choose one melee and one missile weapon to have Warrior THAC0.

Symbols: A silver bow; a labrys (double bitted axe) — note that this is a weapon that the Starbow priests may not actually use in combat.

The Secret Moon

Only initiates of her mysteries know any but the barest rumours of her past and current actions. She was the barely visible moon only glimpsed in the radiance of the Unfallen Sun, and who fled beyond the sky at his fall.

Alignment: True Neutral. Priests and worshippers may have any alignment, but usually tend to Lawful Evil.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wis 13, Cha 13, Dex 15

Races allowed: Any, though usually from outcast populations.

Proficiencies: As the Assassin kit from the Complete Thief's Handbook, plus Recommended — Religion, Blind-fighting (no extra out-of-class cost). Crossover: Priest, Thief.

Duties: Furthering the cryptic purposes of the Secret Moon; ensuring that things best kept secret remain so.

Weapons and armour: As thief; weapons of quiet death like the stiletto or the garotte are preferred.

Other Limitations: Must obey their superiors without question. All aspects of the Assassin kit.

Spheres: major — All, Summoning, Divination, minor — Healing (both normal and reversed), Necromantic (reversed), Sun (reversed).

Special spells: Glow: A variant on Chant. The priest glows with am eerie blue light, which gives him and all his associates +1 on all their defensive rolls and -1 to be hit. Lasts 6 rounds, plus 1 per level of caster. Summon Secret Moon Elemental: As Summon Fire elemental. The elemental is invisible.

Followers and strongholds: As a minor deity, her priests only have those followings they can personally attract.

Powers: Gain thief skills as a thief of the same level and the benefits of the Assassin kit.

Symbols: A wavy-bladed dagger.

The Blood Moon

After the first War in Heaven, and the return of the Sun from the Long Night, there was at first no moon. How the Moon later arose is not known. She may have been the Secret Moon returned, or a once-mortal sorceress who attempted to fuse Solar might with the feminine principle, or even a synthetic construct built through arcane engineering as an anti-Sun either by creatures of Darkness or as a weapon against them. Whatever her origin, the presence of a new power enthroned in the sky led to a Second War in Heaven, culminating in a battle between the Moon and the Thunder Father from which both took sore wounds, and in which the world was shaken and remade.

The worship of the Blood Moon is a weakened survior into historic time of the days before that final war; and is without doubt a debased form of the original worship

Alignment: None. Worshippers may have any alignment (but see below). The worship of the Blood Moon is often appealing to mages of an appropriate mindset.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wis 12 Int 13 Cha 15

Races allowed: Any.

Proficiencies: Required — Spellcraft, Astronomy, Recommended - Religion, Reading/Writing, Ancient Languages, Ancient History, Astrology. Crossover: Priest, Wizard

Duties: Spreading the liberating and enlightening message of the Blood Moon, if desired.

Weapons and armour: Chain, shield, Sickle, Scimitar, Shortbow, Scythe, Rhompia (crescent bladed axe).

Other Limitations: Receive only D6s for hit points; subject to the equivalent of Ravenloft Power Checks, and hence may often sport some malformation (power checks may occur for any essentially selfish act): with freedom, such as the liberation from alignment, there comes a corresponding responsibility, and those who succumb to temptation wear their failures externally. The Blood Moon is also regarded as a demonic figure from myth, so her followers also labour under that burden of prejudice, especially in areas that were once conquered by, or under threat of conquest by her Dominion.

Casting of priestly spells is affected by the phase of the moon as follows:

  • Dark of the Moon — 1st and 2nd only
  • Crescent Moon — up to 4th
  • Gibbous Moon — up to 6th
  • Full Moon — any

This does not affect casting of wizard spells for split or dual class Wizard/Priests.

Spheres: major — All, Law, Chaos; minor Sun, Charm

Special spells: Moonbeam (Sun 5th), Summon Moon Elemental: As Summon Fire Elemental. The Moon elemental attacks for only half the damage of a Fire elemental, but those attacked must save vs Death Magic or make a Madness check.

Followers and strongholds: As a minor deity, her priests only have those followings they can personally attract.

Powers: Worshippers may follow any alignment, but its value is hidden. Alignment detecting spells yield only "Neutral"; and take no damage or other adverse effects from magic items based on their alignment; and gain benefits as the better of their own alignment and Neutral. When casting any spell, may modify it with metamagic spells (as per Tome of Magic) as follows:

  • Dark of the Moon — none
  • Crescent Moon — level totals equal half spell's
  • Gibbous moon — level totals equal to the spell's
  • Full Moon — level totals equal to spell's + 2

without memorising the metamagic spells or using extra spell slots. If the priest is also a wizard, these benefits transfer to casting wizard spells as well. Spells so affected glow bright red, even if normally not visible.

Symbols: A half-red, half-black disk.

Mistress Moon

After the War in Heaven between Thunder Father and the Blood Moon, when calm at last returned to Earth and Sky alike, and the clouds that had long blocked sight of Sun, Moon and Stars alike parted, a white moon was revealed, rolling along the same path as the Sun. Perhaps this was the conquering Blood Moon washed clean by the storms, but broken like the Sun before her to wheel between Heaven and Underworld.

Worshippers of Mistress Moon align themselves according to their age into the appropriate aspect — maiden, matron or crone.

Alignment: True Neutral. Priests may have any part-neutral alignment. There is no restriction on worshippers.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wis 10, Cha 12

Races allowed: Any surface dwelling; only women are permitted into the priesthood; few men even join the worshippers.

Proficiencies: Required Astronomy; Recommended Religion, Navigation, Astrology, Spellcraft, Reading/Writing.

Duties: Guidance, Marriage, support of women in the transitions of their life.

Weapons and armour: Chain, shield, Sickle, Scimitar, Shortbow, Scythe, Rhompia (crescent bladed axe).

Other Limitations: The secretive and nocturnal nature of their worship can cause a negative reaction from non-worshippers.

Spheres: major — All, Charm, Divination, Summoning, Sun; minor - Elemental, Healing (and Necromantic if you use the unrevised spell spheres).

Followers and strongholds: As a minor deity, her priests only have those followings they can personally attract.

Powers: A priestess of the moon as maiden has Charm/Fascination; a priestess of the moon as matron has Soothing Word; a priestess of the moon as crone has Turn Undead. Saves against any of their magical effects are at -1 during the appropriate phase of the moon.

At 5th Level, all gain Inspire Fear (as per the CPHB).

Symbols: A silver disk.

Mountain Daughter

The martial daughter of Mother Earth, the patron of warrior women, and especially those who fight to defend, or, damage done, to avenge.

Alignment: Chaotic good.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wis 10, Str 12 (gain +5% xp if both are 16+)

Races allowed: Human, elven or half-elven women.

Proficiencies: Required Tracking (as Ranger); Recommended Religion, Reading/Writing, Riding, Healing. Crossover Priest, General and Warrior

Duties: Defending, especially other women; avenging harm done to them.

Weapons and armour: Any armour and shield, any axe or axe-like pole arm. May specialise in one chosen weapon.

Other Limitations: Joining this priesthood separates a woman from her normal society. In particular, she may not marry

Spheres: major — All, Healing, Protection, Elemental Earth; minor - Necromantic, Guardian.

Followers and strongholds: TBD.

Powers: Bladethirst, level times daily, castable on her own axe. Incite berserker rage in self or other members of the cult.

Symbols: A bloody axe.

Sir Sword

Once a brother of the Thunder Father, now the wielder of the archetypal sword, and that sword itself, that first brought death to the world.

Alignment: Lawful Neutral.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wis 9, Str 13

Races allowed: Any.

Proficiencies: As CPHB war god, including crossovers

Duties: Excelling in martial prowess, separating the living and the dead (including laying to rest those who should be dead, but are not - the undead).

Weapons and armour: Any armour and shield, any sword. May specialise in all swords.

Other Limitations: May not be raised or resurrected or even turned into undead (though the physical remains of the priest may be animated as a skeleton or zombie). Any transition to undeath e.g. by level draining by high level undead, results in the character's death rather than transformation into undead.

Spheres: major — All, Combat, Necromantic (but may not raise the dead); minor Healing, Protection.

Followers and strongholds: TBD.

Powers: Turn Undead; Sense Assassin ( WIS based proficiency ); CON bonus as poison and such as a dwarf (doubled if you are one).

Symbols: A sword.

Volcano Brother

The youngest brother of the Sun, who fell into the Earth, not into the Underworld. As the CPHB Fire god with the following changes:

Proficiencies: add bonus one forge-related and one farming-related

Duties: Aiding and being an example to the workers on the land.

Spheres: major — All, Healing, Elemental Fire; minor — Healing, Necromantic, Protection.

Symbols: A burning spear.

Thunder Father

The son of Sky and Earth, who fell in the Gods War long ago. This is how his priests of that age might have appeared.

Alignment: Neutral good.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wis 10, Con 12

Races allowed: Air-breathing males.

Proficiencies: As CPHB Sky/Weather god

Duties: What a man's gotta do; to be an exemplar of the role of man as father, provider, protector, and, as needs be, warrior.

Weapons and armour: As the CPHB ruling god.

Spheres: major — All, Weather, Elemental Air; minor — Healing, Combat.

Special spells: Add the following mage spells at their original level — Fly, Dimension Door, Teleport, plus Conjure Air Elemental (as Conjure Fire Elemental).

Powers: Incite berserker rage and Inspire Fear as CPHB.

Symbols: A thundercloud.

Desert Storm

A brother of the Thunder Father, patron of berserk warriors who strive against unnatural monsters. As the CPHB god of Strength, with the following changes

Alignment: Chaotic (urrr... Disorderly) neutral.

Duties: Destroying unnatural monsters.

Special spells: Replace Flamestrike with Conjure Air Elemental.

Symbol: A bull's head.

Mothers of the Moon

The wizard-priests who created, empowered or restored the entity whose remnant is now the Blood Moon were at one time worshipped as demigods in their own right, and in their collective role as those who brought the moon into being, as a fully powered god-equivalent. This is how their worshippers might have appeared

Alignment: Neutral.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wis 10

Races allowed: Any.

Proficiencies: As CPHB god of Everything

Duties: Spread the word. Bring civilsation to the barbarian and savage.

Weapons and armour: Any armour and shield, scimitar, sickle and scythe. May specialise in scimitar.

Spheres: major — All, Charm, Necromantic, Sun; minor — Healing, Combat.

Followers and strongholds: TDB.

Other Limitations: Casting of priestly spells is affected by the phase of the moon as follows:

  • Dark of the Moon — 1st and 2nd only
  • Crescent Moon — up to 4th
  • Gibbous Moon — up to 6th
  • Full Moon — any

This does not affect casting of wizard spells for split or dual class Wizard/Priests.

Special spells: Summon Moon Elemental: As Summon Fire Elemental. The Moon elemental attacks for only half the damage of a Fire elemental, but those attacked must save vs Death Magic or make a Madness check.

Powers: Turn Undead.

Symbols: A silver moon.

Emperor Sun

The first ruler of the cosmos.

Alignment: Lawful (= bureaucratic) good.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wis 12, Int 12

Races allowed: Men whose fathers were priests of Emperor Sun.

Proficiencies: Required Healing; Recommended Religion, Reading/Writing, Riding (horse), Play Harp. Crossovers as CPHB Sun god.

Duties: Governing. Being an example of austere virtue

Weapons and armour: As CPHB Sun god

Spheres: major — All, Divination, Healing, Necromantic, Sun; minor — Charm, Elemental Fire, Plant, Protection.

Special spells: Imbue with Spell ability — despite only having minor access to the Charm sphere.

Followers and strongholds: TDB.

Powers: Turn Undead, Soothing Word, Inspire Fear.

Symbols: A golden sunburst.

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