Peter Gasgano

Peter Gasgano first came to life back in 1999, as an NPC for a game I was running at a precursor to PlayByWeb, based on a home-brew Sage class. He became a PC in another game at RPoL running D&D 2.5 (Skills and Powers), before reverting to an NPC in a NWN persistent world, and eventually turning up in Pathfinder game I ran. In between he was a PC in a couple of ‘Tavern’ style games. Now he has grown powerful enough to be an Immortal in my latest game world.

This biography of my long-standing sage, has been ‘written by’ another long-standing character, who also has an interest in collecting information, and will probably serve as my ‘Senior Sage’ now that Gasgano is so important. I might write up Flower’s biography one day.


A biography of Peter Gasgano – as told by Flower Nightsky, Advisor and Librarian to Sir Joromi Doxaro, Lord of Holbridges.

I first met Peter when he come to Berghof to visit the Nightsky Monastary, in the hope of seeing their famous books of prophesy and, while he was refused access to the prophesies, he stayed with me for a few weeks, to learn what he could of the area and the order.  He was interested many things, his current field of study was people and societies – so he collected stories about individuals, groups and societies.  Eventually, he published a paper on the people and history of Berghof.  In return for my help, he told me about his long life and experiences – which I duly wrote down and published as a short biography. 

Peter, or as he is often known, Gasgano, is a small lithe man, not particularly strong, nor light on his feet – but gifted with love of knowledge and the ability to learn, with a knack of rooting out things that few others can find.   He isn’t particularly gregarious, although he is personable and people feel comfortable in talking to him.  Even when his notebook comes out and he starts writing things down.

His early years were spent on a farm, as a child of reasonably wealthy parents – who rented out their lands to tenant farmers.  While not robust, and not interested in the physical work of farming, Peter turned his mind to the academic side of farming.  Before long he had a good understanding of crop rotations, complementary planting, fertilizers and laboursaving systems.  He also had interest in herbs and, particularly, fungi.  Eventually, his father found him and apprenticeship with a sage called Reece, in Angasa.

He was soon sent to Galinia, to act as support for a group of adventurers who were clearing and exploring the land ready for recolonization.  Gasgano’s role was to bolster agricultural production for the clans that had remained behind and to offer support in the form of herbal remedies to the party, as well as recording the wildlife he encountered.  It went well, and he was eventually offered the role of Chief Herald for the newly reformed state.  All went well until, after a trip to Holy Isle to meet the Raven King of Armes, he returned to the land of his birth expecting to reconnect with his family.  Things did not go as planned, and he was caught up in a magical gate-trap which transported him to a different plane – and into the middle of a war between two competing religious factions.

Initially disappointed with their ‘catch’, his new colleagues realised Gasgano’s worth when they found a copy of the Book of the Dead, in the dungeons of a necromancer, and he was able to translate some of it.  That included a spell that allowed him to open a gate to the Paths of the Dead.  The Paths of the Dead surround a world and, if you know how, you can use them to travel rapidly from one point of the world to another.    However, he was soon scrabbling for other, defensive, spells as he and his group fought their way through The Paths to their enemy’s headquarters for the decisive battle.  His use of the book attracted the attention of Ankoo[i] (who is a servant of Aroon[ii], god of the underworld) who taught him how to use the book to travel between planes, and thus find a way home.  However, that made it easier for Gasgano to translate some of the more complex parts of the text, and he worked out how he could absorb some of the powers that were held in the book.

Eventually he summoned a Guiding Light, which led him from The Paths to The Boatman and eventually onto the realms of the goddess Takri[iii].  Takri’s role in her Pantheon is to ensure that souls got to their proper destination, and in this case, seeing as Peter wasn’t dead, he managed to convince her to allow a Guiding Light to show him the way back to his original plane.

He studied with a cleric of The Ruby Sorceress[iv] who sold resurrection to adventurers, and was at the destruction of an Artefact created  for a follower of the Four Horsemen[v] – then studied the religious library that priest had kept.

By this time he was well versed in the Paths of the Dead.  He could manipulate the borders with our world and move between those planes at ease.  He could also control the unquiet spirits of the paths and, if it was required, undead on this plane as well.  And he is the Master of Reincarnation.  Should he ever be killed, he was able to hold his spirit together, and then reform a new body 24 hours later.  He had become an immortal.

He must have sensed a kindred spirit in me, because he invited me to visit his home.  He lives on a permanent demi-plane, somewhere on the Astral Plane.  We travelled via the Path of the Dead, of course, and that alone was an experience worthy of note. The Paths are grey/green, with little or no other colour at all – it is a bit like looking at the word through a pair of heavily misted spectacles. They are full of the unquiet dead, souls who have not released their hold on the living world, or who do not have a coin to pay the ferryman. They clamour around trying to steal life essence, in the misguided belief that they can return to the living world, or trying to steal coins that they may pay their way forwards.  Gasgano constructed a barrier around us and they parted to leave us a way through, although they were always close and moaning softly  – although unable to reach us.  They, and their moaning, accompanied us all the time we were on the Paths of the Dead.

Then there was a very short trip into the Astral Plane, before Gasgano opened a way into his own home.  We entered into a small garden surrounded by fruit bushes and walls slung with climbing plants.  A shallow stream flowed from a wall fountain to make a pond in the middle of the garden, which was surrounded by trees, many bearing nuts, which obscured the sky and left us in dappled shade.  On one side a door leads into a small house.  There is a central living area a main suite for Gasgano and smaller rooms for guests.  While we needed to collect our own water and fruits from the garden, the house itself was kept clean and neat by an invisible servant. A flight of stairs led down …

Into the most comprehensive library I have ever seen.    Chambers filled with books and scrolls of all sorts – there is one with general works, another dedicated to natural sciences such as agriculture, herbs and fungi.  A third contains Gasgano’s own writings on the people and societies of our world, while another contains his books and research notes on death, the Paths of the Dead and other similar topics.  It was most impressive.

A door from the other side of the garden led to the Sunset Land.  A large red sun hung on the horizon, throwing the cool shadows of evening across a pleasant parkland dotted with large trees and small open air amphitheatres, all linked by narrow paths..    Small group of people congregated under trees to discuss lore and theories, while some of the amphitheatres hosted a ‘teacher’ holding forth of their favourite theories and philosophies.  Mostly this led to quiet debate, although occasionally voices were raised in fiercer debate of the finer or philosophical points of an argument.

We didn’t stop for long, before Gasgano returned us to this mundane world and the tasks of daily life.  However, that was a journey that I will never forget, and one that changed my outlook on life.  I have always followed a path of physical and mental development and trained both my mind and body to deal with the rigours of life – and my upbringing at the Nightsky monastery gave me a healthy respect for books and reading.  However, now I have taken the step of deliberately searching out new information and recording it as best I can, in the hope that one day I will be deemed suitable for an afterlife filled with gentle discussion and debate.  Who knows, one might still be able to grow and develop, even after one has died.


[i] Ankou, Breton Celtic: shepherd of souls.

[ii] Arawn, Welsh Celtic: God of the Underworld.

[iii] Takri, Valarez Pantheon: A bespoke Psycopomp written for a game set in Valerez, now translated to my New World Pantheon.

[iv] Wee Jas, Various D&D.  Shepherdess of the dead. She was the story-core behind the death system in NWN worlds that I worked on.

[v] The Four Horsemen, Pathfinder 1 Mythos.

Life, The Universe and Everything: Part 2a

You wait ages for a bus and then two come along at once … Welcome to me thinking things through.


The Structure of the Cosmos: Q

I would have called this a FAQ –  but no one has asked any questions yet 😛  But these are questions that I would want to ask.

Where do the gods live, if there aren’t any Outer Planes?

They live on great demi-planes floating somewhere in the Astral Plane.  A true god is so powerful, their power so awesome and the abilities so great, that their very presence adds a new bit to their realm each day, in much the same way as a Create Demiplane Spell.  The longer a god has existed and the more powerful they are – the larger/greater/ more sophisticated their demiplane is.

Rather than being arranged by alignment, these massive demi-planes are arranged by Pantheon –  so the whole pantheon are lodged together – rather than with others of the same alignment.  The residents of the gods are often clustered together in the oldest and most developed parts of the joint demiplane –  as you move outwards, the joint demiplane become less well-developed and less well sophisticated.  All very similar to an Outer Plane 🙂

There might even be a portal from the prima material directly into the realm of the gods.  Much as the Greek gods had Mount Olympus and the Norse Gods had Bifrost.

Yeah.  I know.  How big does a demiplane have to be a plane in its own right?  A:  As big or as small as you like.  Personally, I see the greatest of gods having almost infinite demi-planes.

Life

‘Normal life’ –Humans, Humanoids, Plants, Animals, Insects and even most Monsters are a collection of all the elements (Earth, Wind, Fire and Air bound together by ethereal glue) supported by a ‘life force’.   More intelligent things have a larger Spark of Life, while things with any sort of innate ability (bards, gnomes, magical beasts, dragons etc) have Motes of Magic, and some heroes and deities have Shards of Immortality. Anything with Int 2+ has a soul that can pass on to the afterlife.

The bodies of creatures such as Elementals, are made up of  one or two elements, although still bound together by ethereal glue. Ethereal beings might just be made of Ethereal glue and a life force.

Death

When a living being dies, the life force is separated from the  physical body, although a small amount of Ethereal glue continues to bind the life force together, for a while.  This means the  life force can’t yet leave The Miasmas that surrounds the Prime Material (Which allows speak to dead, raise dead etc) to work.  However, eventually the Ethereal glue weakens and the Spark of Life, as well as any Motes of Magic dissolve back into the astral plane.

This generally happens to non-sentient beings, those who do not believe in an afterlife and those who do not consciously follow a life philosophy.

The Afterlife

There are a number of things that bind the Life Force into a soul, and stop, or at least delay,the life force from fading away and everything being returned to their component parts.

Philosophy – some people consciously choose to follow or support a philosophy throughout their life,  and their soul may well finish up in a demi-plane created by earlier followers of those views.  For example,  Nature Priests (Druids, Rangers, Adepts etc) who have followed the Green Faith, but not dedicated themselves to a particular deity.  Oracles and some Witches fall into this category.  Note that this not an alignment thing –  there must be a  decision to follow a specific philosophical path.

Belief – a character who follows a religion and has a clear idea of their afterlife, does not fade away.  Instead, they make their way to the planes of their gods, and face judgement there.  This doesn’t happen immediately, as they need to wait until they can leave the Miasmas before they can complete their journey.  However, the soul might be hijacked on that journey (normally by something evil) and taken to a different afterlife instead.  It is much better to have a better funeral service where a priest calls on the services of a Psycopomp to act as a guide and protector.  This includes most ‘normal’ beings as well as any with a character class that gains divine spells.

Shards of Immortality –  heroes who have managed to incorporate at least one Shard of Immortality, but not enough to be truly immortal, do not fade away.  They are not strong enough to follow their own destiny – but follow lesser souls, to the afterlife as promised by their religion or philosophy – They often finish up as members of their chosen celestial (or diabolic) hierarchy.  If they don’t have a philosophy or religion, they need to find a protector quickly, or else their souls will be snapped up to feed the furnaces of hell (or its equivalent)

Immortal –There are a number of ways to achieve some form of immortality, and each have their own rules that should be followed.

Undeath

Undead creatures have found a way to replace their Spark of Life with a Mote of Magic – and they live the unlife that they have chosen – or been given.

In some cases, the ‘gift’ of undeath is passed from undead to undead naturally (Vampires) or through spells (Create Undead) or though sophisticated ceremonies enacted before death (Lich).  In some cases it comes with the ‘price’ of being controlled by the creator while other undead are free willed.

Many undead (Skeletons, Zombies) retain a physical body – but for others such as Ghosts or Wraiths, the elemental part degrades normally and only the Ethereal glue remains to bind the unlife force together.

High level free-willed undead may have incorporated Shard of Immortality – although they are few and far between.

Life, The Universe and Everything: Part 2

This is a refinement of my views of the structure of a fantasy game universe, which should be compatible with most D&D like games. I never did much like the model that has been used, and this makes more sense to me – but it is also flexible enough that it can be used with a variety of models – but still leave enough space for the DM to play 🙂

I know it needs a bit more refinement – but that will come in time. Theses things hang around in the back of my brain for ages, getting tweked and reworked all of the time – however, I don’t think the core of the model will change much.

And yes, I probably do need a decent editor to make it read better 😛


The Structure of the Cosmos

I use a different ‘Cosmic’ structure to most D&D style game settings. My world doesn’t have inner planes and outer planes, or even separate planes for different elements or alignments – I use a simple, much more flexible model.

The Ethereal Plane

Back in the beginning there was chaos – nothing really existed, it was all just ‘Stuff’. I have no idea where the stuff came from – we just have to accept that it was there. Although it would make an interesting project for a theoretical research sage.

Then something happened. There are many different explanations for this – The great Ey-Oy swimming, the natural separation of heavy ‘stuff’ from light ‘stuff’ – probably as many as there are religious groupings. It doesn’t really matter how it happened, what is important is that it happened – because it separated ‘stuff’ out into five different things. Fire, Air, Earth, Water and Aether – the elements. We all know what Fire, Air, Earth and Water look like – but Aether has always been a source of interest for sages, because no one is really sure what it is.

Most sages think it was the original ‘stuff’ and that bits of it changed to make up the other elements – however, they all agree that it is everywhere in the whole of the physical cosmos. If you think of a giant snow-globe – with red flecks for fire, white for air, brown for earth and blue for water – shake it up and watch them all swirl around mixing up and swirling around each other. The Aether is the liquid that they swirl in – it touches all four elements, it is everywhere – and it makes it all possible. Without Aether everything would just fall to pieces.

The Elemental Planes

One thing the sages can agree on, is that the four physical elements have an affinity for themselves – and they clump together. Think of lots of little magnets sticking together, or fat forming into greasy clumps after you roasted a joint, or even starlings flocking together. Again, it doesn’t matter how or why – it just happens. And that forms the elemental planes.

The sages argue about how many there are – some say there is just one plane of each type of element, others argue that there might be many different planes of each element. The most radical argue that there could be planes where two elements come together – Fire and Earth, to make a Magma plane.  Who, in this tiny little bubble of a world, can know all of these things?

One thing the sages are sure of is that the Aether, the Ethereal Plane, touches all of those other elemental planes, and holds them together.

The Astral Plane

Is the key to life. Some sages say it is the life blood of the primal creator god Ey-Oh, who sacrificed itself to create life in the universe, others say it was released from a water droplet that fell and burst, and I am sure that there are other ideas out there as well. However, they all agree that The Astral Plane is the source of all life.

However, rather than a snow-globe, the Astral is more like a tangled ball of yarn, threads stretch everywhere and practically impossible to separate. Indeed, you can see one of those threads if every you enter the Astral Plane – all you need to do is watch your own silver cord stretch back to your material body. However, there are many other threads, and only a few of them stretch back to a living being. Worse still, the Astral is a matted mess of more than one type of thread – think of strands of spider silk, mixed with the down from a baby’s bottom and the fluff of cotton-wool – among any other type of thin fibre that comes to mind. And those treads wind right through the Ethereal and touch everything in the cosmos.

Sages are not sure what these threads are, or where they go, but they are sure that there are at least three things involved – either as threads themselves or, as most think, caught up within them.

Sparks of Life

The first thing that any form of life needs – from the smallest simplest thing swimming in a primordial sea, right through to the greatest of the gods. Some sages argue that the bigger your Spark, the greater your life force – others argue that you can accumulate more Life Sparks. Others just say they don’t know. What they do all agree on, is that every living thing has at least one Spark of Life.

Motes of Magic

Sages believe that Motes are the source of all magic in the cosmos. Mages learn how to manipulate motes when they read their spell books, priests learn prayers s that grant them divine access to motes, while sorcerers just have an innate ability to manipulate them. Some sages even say that sorcerers and bards have motes of magic in their makeup. It doesn’t really matter, of course, so long as the magic works.

Shards of Immortality

The stuff of the gods. However not everyone who has Shards of Immortality in their makeup is a god, and they aren’t even immortal – however, they have taken the first steps along that way. However, as you incorporate more Shards, you may become immortal, and may (eventually) become

The Prime Material Plane

There isn’t just one of them, there are lots, because each world is its own self-contained plane. No one is quite sure how they came about, but a Prime Material plane is where bits of all the elements exist close to each other. The world itself is a chunk of Elemental Earth, the Sky is Elemental Air, the sea is Elemental Water and the sun Elemental Earth – and somehow they all co-exist together in the same little bit of the Ethereal Plane. Sages debate it endlessly. Most agree that there must be something special about that particular piece of the Ethereal. The Interventionists maintain that it a part of Ey-Oh that wasn’t completely destroyed, the Naturalists argue that it is a small piece of the original drop that remains, still others argue that it is a ripple in the fabric of the astral. None of them really know, but there are many different theories.

All believe that it needn’t just be one piece of each element. Moons are generally seen as an extra piece of Elemental Earth, while dual suns are each made of Elemental Fire. Some argue that that ‘extras’ will all slowly move closer together until they coalesce into one large piece. Some even argue that there is Elemental Fire inside the great ball of Elemental Earth, which would explain volcanoes and magma. But none of them really know.

The Miasma

What all the sages agree on, is the Miasma. This is a region close the the Prime Material where both the Ethereal and Astral planes act differently to normal. Some describe them as ‘thicker’ others describe them as ‘more dense’, while another group describes them as ‘closely intermingled’. The all agree, however, that something is different, and most believe that The Miasma creates a sort of border plane around the Prime Material – although it isn’t consistent. Some recognise it as a Border Ethereal, some as the Plane of Shadows, while still others call it the Paths of the Dead.

However you see it, all three seem to co-exist in the same space at the same time, like some twisted, not quite right, version of both planes, which have become twisted and interlinked.

Life, The Universe and Everything: Part 1

The Universe

The cosmology that underpins my game universe.

In the Begining

Way back, back beyond the earliest memories of the old dwarf, and even beyond the earliest memories of the oldest god – there was nothing.  Or absolute chaos, depending on which priests you listen too.  But then, it was so long ago that it doesn’t make much difference really.  However most faiths tend to follow two main schools of thought

The Interventionist School

There was a noise, or least something happened.  Some say it was just a noise, although most priests agree that the primal over-god Ey-Oh came into existence – and most of those agree that Ey-Oh was deaf, blind and barely aware of its surroundings.  Instead Ey-Oh swum in the soup of chaos (or nothingness) until it started to take a shape and form a structure of its own.  His (or her, sages can’t agree) swimming created Planes of Fire, Earth, Water, Air, Hope and Despair – with the Ethereal Plane weaving in around and about them.  Great swirling nodes of elemental material swirled through the Ethereal, eventually leaving great inter-planar rifts in their wake – and it was the outpouring of Elemental material through these planar rifts, that created the prime material planes.

There are many Prime Material worlds, and each one is  a nexus point where  rifts from all six of the great planes have come together.  The ball of Elemental Earth that spewed from a rift created the land, Elemental Water created the sea, Elemental Fire made the sun  etc ….   Over time  flow though the rifts slowed, and the flow of elemental matter has come into equilibrium. 

Eventually Ey-Oh struggled to swim.  She was a creature of the old universe of Chaotic Nothingness, and could not understand the order of the new universe, and his existence came to an end.  But gods don’t die quietly, and Ey-Oh was no exception, rather than passing away quietly, Ey-Oh exploded in a great burst of Life, Magic and Immortality.

Many sages and priests, who follow this school of theology, believe the Ey-Oh recreated himself.  Many say he able to sense his universe around him Ey-Oh remains as the great over-god and all others pale into insignificance when compared to him.  Most say that Ey-Oh is The Universe itself.

The Natural School

Other sages and priests follow the Natural School of Creation.  They believe everything stsrted with the creation of the world, when the sky and the earth were one. As there was no sky or earth, as a result there was only an empty void. However, one day, a gap formed in the void. All that was lighter than the gap headed upwards and formed the sky. All that was heavier than the gap fell down to become the earth. Rain fell from the sky creating a great mire before a clear blue drop of life-dew fell, settled into the newly created swamp and grew into a great tree. The tree stood firm on the ground and pushed up the Sky. With each day the sky grew ten feet (3 meters) higher, the Earth ten feet thicker, and the tree ten feet taller. And the bubble expanded.

After a while the tree grew seed pods which, when they burst gave forth the Elements, time, positive energy and negative energy. However the release of all of those conflicting energies caused a huge explosion and the bubble that contained the earth and sky was blown apart – creating lots of little bubbles with their own little bit of earth and Sky. At the same time, life, magic and immortality were released into the world.  The energies coalesced to make the elements planes. The void that was left became the astral and ethereal – we live in one of those little bubbles, while life, magic and immortality pervade everything in the universe. It is said that the tree is still there, invisible to most, stretching from the heavens to the hells, passing through the Astral and the Ethereal, and linking all of the bubbles together. The elements trapped inside our world bubble became the Primordial Powers, and between them they nurture all life on earth.

Cycles

But all of that was so long ago, the Universe has changed many times since.  After The Universe was created, gods and people came into being – but no one really knows how.  Each race, indeed each nation, have their own ideas – but it is unclear and many cycles ago.   What we do know is there has been at other eras before the start of this one, and we know that, in Cosmic terms, we are only just at the start of this era.

The end of the last Era

After the eternal winter the great snake drank the sea, the wolf ate the sun, cows turned to lions and ate everything. The armies of the righteous, the chosen who had died in battle, those whose hearts were lighter than a feather, and those who had gone into the east with the sun were mustered and they fought together against the undead legions of the underworlds. Gods, demons and giants fought to the death, then the fire came and the seas rose up. Everything was destroyed. This is known as the Gods War.

And the start of this Era

Except that it wasn’t the end of the Universe, just the end of that cycle. The Great Powers are beyond the Gods and out of their reach, while the The Tree of Life is indestructible – and life goes on. Some hid within the trunk of the great tree (Ethereal plane), others became as birds and flew to the topmost branches (Astral), others hid in the great mounds and wells around the roots (Elemental Planes). Many small groups survived to repopulate the world when it was healed.

Eventually they returned and the new Era started.


Note: Spells like Plane Shift, Shadow Walk, Create Demiplane and Planar Refuge made it possible to escape and wait out the apocalypse. Even some mid-level casters would have been able to escape, and presumably take their entourage with them. Each one is, potentially, a seed for the new tribe.

The Old Lords

Over the months I have made a number of posts based on building a bespoke pantheon for my game world. An earlier post, pretty much fixed the deities for The Temple of the Shrines – a group of deities who have been working their way along the trade routes of the world. This post does something similar for The Old Lords.

The Old Lords have been in my game world for ages and originally represented the remains of the Celtic Pantheon that I had used in my very first online game, called Galinia. Later, it changed slightly to include some North American deities, which let me add a slightly nomadic element while maintaining a nature loving clan/tribal based structure. Now I have reworked it to match my Gods Wars cosmology – and built it on a number of lesser or local deities, from Real World religions and mythologies.


The Church of the Old Lords

  • Overview: Rural, community based faith. (TN)
  • Domains: Animal, Artifice, Community, Plant, Protection, Travel
  • Symbol: Six-Fold Cross

The Church of The Old Lords is a relic of an earlier, simpler time and the faith that went with it.  The Church of The Old Lords promotes a simple rural philosophy that promotes concepts of community and respect based around village life. 

Tenets of the Faith

  • Respect the natural world.  Hunters, trappers, gatherers, miners, woodcutters etc – are expected to take the share considerately.  Don’t take the doe when she has a fawn.  Take a handful of berries and move on.  If you take a tree, plant three more …
  • Respect yourself and each other.  Be seen as a good member of the community.  Offer help when someone is struggling.  Don’t kick them when they are down.  Ask a fair price.
  • Respect property.  Theft, graffiti and general vandalism is disapproved of.   But so is mistreating you farm or herd animals, or neglecting your fields.
  • Respect your community.  Your village should be highest in your heart, but other followers are part of your community as well.  Be prepared to fight for, and defend, your community if you need to.

Church

There is no formal hierarchy to the church – it is a community religions.  Each village will have its own Wise-Woman or Elder-Man who guardian of the lore, tends the local shrine, knows the festivals and prayers, and is favoured by the gods.  But communities are more than villages, and there are shrines high up in the mountains, deep in the forests where shepherds and woodsmen tend to meet – and even just at the side of the road.

Shrines are often just a rock with the Six-Fold Cross onto it, and aren’t really places for religious gatherings, they are there as a reminder.  Most people glance at them and smile a silent prayer to their gods, other times might touch the shrines lightly.  Sometimes a minor offering might be placed by the shrine, often a small piece of food from a recent meal placed on the shrine, or a small amount of a drink spilled on the ground.

Clergy

Most clergy, known as Wide-Women or Elder-Men, are low level adepts, living as an integral part of their community.  Some are farmers, some are hunters, and others are mothers, warriors or shepherds.  It doesn’t matter quite what they do –  they are part of the community.

Occasionally a more outwardly focussed cleric will come along –  either with a desire to see the wider world, or to take the faith back to the rest of the people.  The Wise-Women and Elder-Men nod their heads wisely as they help the young ones prepare to leave.  But are just as ready to help welcome them back home again, once they have discovered the error of their ways.   Some never come back, of course.  But that might be because they have found another community to serve …

PC Clerics

All PC priests of The Old Lords are nature loving Clerics  (No Druids, Inquisitors, Oracles or other priestly class).  The clerics represent the whole pantheon at once, even though the separate deities are described individually, they do not have clergy of their own.

Holidays

The primary holidays are the Solstices and Equinoxes, which mark the turning of the seasons.  These help them know when to plant, when to harvest, when to bring the sheep back home, when not to take game, when to start preserving food for the winter – etc etc.

These holidays and festivals that are so important to the followers of The Old Lords, are still celebrated among Hann people everywhere, as traditions and as part of the folk-lore and traditions of the Hann People. 


Backstory

While they are not worshipped individually any more, and there are no priests dedicated to any of them – this is what the old lords looked like back in the day when they were seen as separate deities.

Lord Crow

  • The Protector. Patron of Chieftains and warriors. (NG) (M)
  • Domains = Protection, War.

Origins: Back in the days before the Gods War, Lord Crow was known as Hug served as messenger to a god.   When his god was slain in the Gods War, Lord Crow was showered in Shards of Immortality – and the familiar became a minor deity in his own right.

Appearance:  Lord Crow normally appears as a dark-skinned man with a hooked nose, dressed in black & silver studded leather armour and a black feathered cloak.  In battle he wields a great spear called Gung-Bol.

Teachings:  To be noble is to be strong of mind, to provide leadership to others and to protect your people from harm.  Lord Crow encourages tribal leaders and chieftains to maintain a warrior band, tasked with protecting the land and the people.

Church: Priests wear black robes, with white trim and serve as house priests and advisors to chieftains, rather than serving in a local temple.  There is no formal church hierarchy, and few formal churches dedicated to Lord Crow.

General:  Lord Crow was said to have three wives, the land deities Mawida, Rusina and Maria.  Many modern Theologians think Lord Crow is an aspect of the Hannite god Cawin. Lord Crow was seen as the major Deity within the pantheon.

Mawida

  • Maid of the Woods. Patron of Hunters, Trappers and Woodsmen. (TN) (F)
  • Domains = Community, Animal, Plant

Origins: Mawida grew as the forests grew, they have always been her home, and she knows no other.

Appearance:  A young woman with long hair worn loose, dressed demurely in a dark green dress.

Teachings:  Respect the forest, take what you need and leave the rest.

Church: Most villages have a female druid / wise woman who lives as part of the community.

General:  Mawida is one of Lord Crow’s wives and many modern theologians think that she is one aspect of the triple goddess, Maruma.  The Green Faith believe that she is a Nature Spirit, an aspect of Gaia the Earth Mother. Mawida was seen as a significant Deity within the pantheon.

Rusina 

  • Mistress of the Fields, Patron of Farmers. (TN) (F)
  • Domains = Community, Animal, Plant

Origins: Rusina has been here as long as she can remember, the fields and plains have always been her home, and she knows no other.

Appearance:  A chubby woman with her hair tied up in braids, dressed in a brown dress.

Teachings:  Respect the land, follow the seasons. Look after your crops and animals, and they will look after you..

Church: Most villages have a female druid / wise woman who lives as part of the community.

General:  Rusina is one of Lord Crow’s wives and many modern theologians think that she is one aspect of the triple goddess, Maruma.  The Green Faith believe that she is a Nature Spirit, an aspect of Gaia the Earth Mother. Rusina was seen as a significant Deity within the pantheon.

Maria

  • The Mountain Crone, patron herders. (TN) (F)
  • Domains = Community, Animal, Plant

Origins: Maria has been here as long as she can remember, the mountains have always been her home, and she knows no other.

Appearance:  An old woman with her hair tied up in a bun, dressed in a grey dress and cloak.

Teachings:  Respect the land, follow the seasons. Look after your animals, and they will look after you.

Church: Most villages have a female druid / wise woman who lives as part of the community.

General:  Maria is one of Lord Crow’s wives and many modern theologians think that she is one aspect of the triple goddess, Maruma.  The Green Faith believe that she is a Nature Spirit, Maria was seen as a significant Deity within the pantheon.

Conn

  • Patron of Crafters and Merchants. (LN) (M)
  • Domain =  Artifice, Community.

Origins: Conn was unknown before the God’s War, but is said to have lead a group of servants to safety in a mage’s personal demiplane. His people were a rag-tag bunch when they returned to the prime material.

Appearance:  A Halfling Craftsman, wearing a leather apron and carrying a small silver workers hammer.

Teachings: Work hard, perfect your skills, charge a fair price for you labour.

Church: No real Church, just a shared understanding of Conn’s Philosophies with shrines in workshops.

General:  Conn is one of two minor deities who played a small role in the pantheon.

Angelia

  • Patron of Travellers. (CG) (F)
  • Domain= Travel

Origins: Angelia was an immortal long before the Gods war, and when the war started she travelled away from the Prima Material, and just kept travelling. She took a number of followers with her – this is still known as “The Long Journey” among those who recognize her.

Appearance:  A half-elf dressed for the road.

Teachings: The journey is often more important than the destination.

Church:  No organized Church, but occasional roadside shrines.

General:  Most theologians think that Angelia and Way are aspects of the same deity, and followers of The Old Lords tend to respect followers of Way, as if she were an aspect of Angelia. Angelia is one of two minor deities who played a small role in the pantheon.

The Religions of Hann

Sometimes design takes a turn you weren’t expecting – well, TBH, that is quite a lot of the time for me.  I was happily writing up the Green Faith, when I got caught up in the cosmology of it all (Actually there are Powers, Gods and Immortals)  but that that led onto a series of questions about how religion works across the Hann Empire – which is another name for my games world.  Then this happened …..  :}


Universal Faiths

Representatives and followers of these faiths are spread all across the Empire.  They might not be the most influential, but they underpin the whole alliance.

The Green Faith –  binds Hann together – there are druids and rangers everywhere an every other faith has come to an accommodation with them.  Indeed it is a Druid, Oliver Green-Barrel who is Raven King of Heralds and master of the Hann Senate – and Chief Adjudicator of the Empire.  His has an even handed way of maintain the balance.  The Green faith is found in the rural and wilderness areas of the Empire, and other religions have had to come to terms with it.  This is a customised version of Green Faith from the PF rule, with some philosophy and cosmology behind it.

The Old Gods –My early campaigns used RL deities –  from the Celtic, Norse and Finnish pantheons – as interpreted by the early versions of legends and lore. For various reasons they have been replaced with this  home-brewed hybrid pantheon that gives the same feel as those early deity.  They came about because I needed some ‘Traditional’ peoples in the area around Berhof – who have now  used (in that same role) across Hann.  They have few major areas of influence – but still have a presence all across the region.  Their strongest area of influence is on the Far Coast, although there are pockets of strong support in other places as well.   Think of this as an amalgam of all the 1st and 2nd ed campaigns that I ran.    They are associated with the  old Clan system, which is currently represented by the Pagini, Treverii and Marisi clans.

Major Faiths

These are the primary religions of different parts of the Empire – based on the published  game systems that were in use when those areas were prominent  (Ie  when I was running games there)  The only real change has been The Strongholds – but that was so long ago that their gods have been superseded and sucked up into The Old Gods).  There are enough overlaps, that they can get on together  (even the trimmed down version of the Zakharan pantheon).  This is how those

Pathfinder Pantheon – The core Pathfinder Gods rule in Telida.  Abadar, Iomedae and Pharasma lead the west Telida pantheon leading to a trade focusses, Pharasma and Kurgess are strongest in the East. In Berhof – Pharasma, Iomedae, Erastil and Desna are all significant.  Erastil is fairly strong strong in the rural areas across the region.

3rd Ed – the gods from the 3.0 PHB.  Simple and straightforward.   Pelor (as always) leads the pantheon but Saint Cuthbert, Heironeous and Elhona all have strong followings, as they were deities worshiped by the adventurers who ‘conquered’ it. (The  Strongholds  was based on the stronghold rules from the 1st ed rules).  That was the start of the end for the Old Gods, and it has spread down the near coast and into the far coast.

Zakharan Pantheon –   Once the Zakharan pantheon were dominant along the far cost, at their followers conquered the lands there on behalf of their Caliph.  When the Conquerors were driven out (That was an interesting game) some of their influence remained.  Strongest in the Razardi Islands they also still  have an influence in the far Coast states..  Jisan and Haku are most prominent among the Zakharan deities active in the Empire, although Kor and Zan are significant as well.

Minor Faiths

This pantheons represent specific groups of people, rather than whole  cultures –  people who are outside of the mainstream …

The Temple of the Shrines – An eclectic collection of demi-gods and philosophies that are associated with Travel and Trading.  Based on a number of minor deities that I have written for different settings over the years – I like them, they all fit together well, and it seems a shame to leave them out :}

The Royal Ancestors – a closed religion for those people who are direct descendants of the Founders of Porters Bar.  Porters Bar has a great beginning story, which involves a Dragon and a half-water-spirit as founders.  The Royal House are their direct descendants – and appear to be able to draw divine power from them and others ancestors of that line.

Dwarves –   I have discovered a lot of mining settlements (of one sort or another) spread around my world – and I have decided to amalgamate them all as Dwarven Mining towns.  Back in the early days Gnomes, and even some Halfling sub-races,  had a lot of overlap with dwarves – but those races have now  developed and moved on –  so Dwarves it is.  I will probably use Moradin and his 3rd ed pantheon as the primary faith in Dwarven settlements.

Others – there will certainly be other racial pantheons – and probably a couple of others as well.

Where are they significant?

Region Primary Secondary Urban Secondary Rural Other Minor
           
Telida Pathfinder Third Ed Green Faith   Old Gods Temple of the Shrines
Strongholds Third Ed Pathfinder Green Faith   Old Gods Temple of the Shrines
Near Coast Third Ed Pathfinder Green Faith   Old Gods Temple of the Shrines
Far Coast (1) Third Ed Zakharan Old Gods Green Faith   Temple of the Shrines
Razadi Zakharan Third Ed Green Faith     Temple of the Shrines
New World (2) Local Faiths   Green Faith     Temple of the Shrines

Note 1: The Far Coast is unusual – in that the four main faiths have almost equal influence, across the region.  It is still a stronghold for the  Clan Leaders (Pagini, Treverii and Marisi) who follow the old gods, and has a large  Al Quadim presence left over from a previous occupation.

Note 2:  The New World represents a number of newly incorporated, places –

  • Finaroka – A very eclectic mix of Green Faith (Wen),  Razadi, 3e, Temple of the Shrines
  • Porters Bar (Exotic City State) with an Eastern feel.  Green Faith (Wen), Royal Ancestors, Arth&Yarma, Temple of the Shrines
  • Paria (Dwarf mining town)  A very mixed race trade village – surrounding a Dwarf Minehold.    Dwarven + Green faith –  with a bit of everything else thrown in for good measure.  The dwarven pantheon are strong underground, but on the surface –  there is no dominant faith. The Temple of the Shrines can also be found here.
  • Port Elizabeth (Exotic trading town) halfway between Telida and Zakhara on a jungle island.  Some Zakharan, some Path Finder and some  minor local gods.  Religion isn’t particularly important here. The Temple of the Shrines can also be found here.

Relationships between Religions

The Green Faith – is everywhere.  And probably has as more followers than any god in any of the pantheons, except (maybe)  Pelor.  And they have allies in every other faith.  Gozerah and Erastil from the Telida pantheons, Elona and Obad-Hai from the Strongholds Pantheon, while both Pingal and Koke of the Old Gods share many traits with the green faith.

Pathfinder: Church of Telida – The is no specific lead deity in the pathfinder pantheon, but, in Western Telida,  Abadar takes  responsibility for ‘external relations’ and it is in his interests (Trade and civilisation) to build working relationships with the neighbours. This is the main branch of this faith and the one that has spread across the Hann Empire. 

Pathfinder: Eastern Telida – In  eastern Telida, Pharasma and Kurgess  are the most respected deities – although other deities from the pantheon also play a prominent role – however there are three separate, but very similar, groups  It is the lesser branch of this faith and not very well organised and, in general terms, follows the lead of the Telida Branch..

3e:  Church of The Strongholds:- Pelor leads the pantheon, and (as an NG deity) he really doesn’t like conflict.  Therefore his clerics  (and many others in the pantheon)  work to retain cordial relations with their neighbours – encouraging trade and cultural exchanges.  This is the only real branch of this faith, and has worked its way all the way down the coast as far as The Razardi isles.

Zakharan: The Church of Razad – Jisan, goddess of plenty and beloved of Merchants is the primary deity in The Razardi Isles and the Far Coast states, ably supported by Haku (god of freedom) , Zan (god of learning) and Kor the god of wisdom.  The other core deities are respected, but Trade, Freedom, Learning and Wisdom  are the core philosophies of this branch of the religion.   Any aggressive deities were chased out when the occupation was broken –  followers of the deities of left behind  could accept their new situation.

The Old Gods: This is a faith in decline.  They were once the primary religion of the mainland areas, but their their influence has declined slowly over the years and are now not considered a threat.   There are still pockets of followers, particularly on the edges of civilisation.  The Clans (Pagini, Treverii and Marisi)  of the Far Coast, themselves a hangover from days gone by, are probably their biggest supporters, however there are pockets of people following the old ways all across the mainland.  They tend to mind their own business and gave up fighting the other faiths many years ago.

The Temple of the Shrines: A very minor pantheon serving a very niche congregation of travellers and traders, spread mainly by the FFTC.  They do not have any ambition to expand beyond that following and  are not seen as a risk to any of the other religious groups.

The Royal Ancestors:  Has a very  limited following. Have no interest in recruiting outside of the family and are never going to be a threat to any other religion.  Nor do they mind who anyone else worships, so long as it doesn’t bring hardship to their city.

The Dwarven Faith:  Similarly, has a limited following. Have no interest in recruiting no-dwarves –  and are a threat to human religions.  Nor do they mind who anyone else worships, so long as it doesn’t bring affect their underground towns/cities.


All of which goes to show that I really like to understand how my world works 🙂 And probably also means that I am a bit sad and OTT.

Pantheon I

I should be posting something about Crafting.  It is something I need to think about, because it will become important in the next ‘Kingdom Turn’ phase of my game on RPoL.  However, I have no enthusiasm for it, and it will be a while before I really need it.  So I am going to write about Gods instead.  Not the main gods in any of the games systems, but my pantheon of Demi-Gods :}


Way – CG, Goddess of Travellers (and likeable rogues)

Way is a deity whose origins go right back to a 1st ed character I played, back in the day.  He was a half-orc called Yuthric Greenteeth, who as a Cleric/Assassin follower of Ptah!  I originally wanted him to be a Cleric/Thief, but that was an illegal multi-class under 1e rules – However that is a different story.  To cut a long story very short, Yuthric founded a religious order called The Brothers of the Way that was dedicated to helping travellers.  This was based on the premise that Ptah (in the 1st ed Egyptian pantheon) was The Opener of the Ways and a wanderer.  Priests were all multi-class Clerics, who retired from travelling.

With 2nd Ed, 3.0, 3.5, Pathfinder –  The Order stayed with me, but changed deity to fit in with whichever system I was using at the time.  Eventually they became the Order of Way, which meant that I no longer had to explain that ‘Sisters are allowed’ whenever a new group of players discovered them.  However, the philosophy hasn’t changed, and The Order still runs hostels in places where travellers in need of support – be it in a town, village or right out in the wilderness.  The provision is always the same – bed-space, a simple meal and water to drink.  Funds come from donations or selling ale, richer food and essentials to their guests.

The latest version of The Order are followers of the demi-goddess Way – an endearing and charismatic Bard/Rogue, who travels across the planes visiting gods, demons and mortals alike.  She is NG, and her backstory describes her an Inter-planar Robin Hood figure on a never ending road trip – lovable, likeable, irritating but good-hearted.  Here on the prime material her hostels are generally run by low-level multi-class bards, rather than priests.  Like the original order, the priests often started out as travelling professions and then gain a level or two of bard when they settle down, and probably only have access to first level spells.


Arth – NG, Patron of hermits and heroes &
Yarma – LG, Patron of caravan guards

Arth and Yarma go back to the first ed rules as well.  However, this time they were inspired by gods that appeared in the 1e Legends and Lore, who were rewritten for a co-operative effort called Porters Bar, a game that was hosted on PlayByWeb.

Originally independent deities, they had interlinked backstories. Yarma caused great destruction when he was possessed by an evil spirit, but redeemed himself in the end.  Arth was the seer/mage who foresaw the events, realized he couldn’t stop the destruction but then spent his life working out how to minimise it. Both were touched by supernatural forces and ascended to the rank of demi-god.

Initially Yarma was intended to be a death god, but as their story grew he developed into a god of redemption and protection as well.  Arth became a symbol of hope and heroic deeds, as well as patron of hermits and seers.  In Porters Bar the two are still important independent deities, with their own temples and roles – Arth is patron of the City while Yarma acts as the local death god and oversees funeral and memorial services.

As traders and seamen from the city travelled the word, they took the pair with them, and now they have small followings in the wider world, who see them in a slightly different light..

Outside of Porters Bar, they are recognised as separate deities, but they are generally worshipped together – a prayer to Yarma nearly always includes a few words to Arth and vice-versa.  Yarma has a lot of competition and, as a tainted deity, he has found the competition for followers stiff.  He has, however, found a niche for himself as the patron of caravan guards, merchant marine guards and road wardens – especially those who also need some level of redemption.  Arth is an important deity in Porters Bar, but outside that very specific role he doesn’t have much appeal to the public, who have other (more important) things on their minds. Instead, Arth gets occasional prayers and donation from people when they could do with a helping hand.

Of the two, Yarma probably has the largest following, although his Priests are military men who spend their time guarding gates, caravans, ships etc. They often have levels of Warrior, Fighter or Ranger as their main class supported by a level of Adept or Cleric.   Very occasionally you might come across a Paladin who has dedicated his life to Yarma, but they are few and far between. You rarely find priests of Yarma in temples.   

Priests of Arth, on the other hand, live a quiet, almost monastic, life as befits a patron of hermits. In towns or cities, you will find them living in small monastic houses working among the neediest members of the community. In the countryside they live isolated, hermit-like, lives – but support their community from afar. However, on the edges of civilization you will find them as a part of the Ecumenical Temple of Shrines, where they maintain shrines to both Arth and Yarma. They always know who needs a bit of help that they can’t pay for, and will encourage ‘heroes’ to help out for the benefit of their soul, rather than the benefit of their purse.


Takri, the Navigator – TN, Psycopomp.

Takri came from a game at RPoL, that I joined as one of a ‘family’ of characters.   A couple of friends and I had written three complimentary characters, with a long intertwining  backstory to provide a basis for relationships, decision-making, general chatter and banter.  However, the DM of the game we joined had his own small pantheon of gods, but he didn’t have a deity that would work for my Cleric/Bard – so I got permission to build one that did.  Later, I had another character in the same game (this time an adept trader) who had different religious needs. So I wrote him another demi-god, with a trade and navigation background that suited his needs. However, I soon realised that there were many similarities between the two deities, and we decided to conflate them into one Goddess, with different cults emphasizing her different aspects.

This current version of Takri uses the backstory from the ‘southern’ cult to support the role of the original deity. The original backstory was very world specific, and just wouldn’t work anywhere else – and this IMO, works better anyway.  So, Takri was a sailor, captain of a vessel that swept out to sea, and was lost for years. She promised to serve the gods for ever, if they just saved her and her crew.  The gods took her up on it.

Now  Takri serves as Chief Psycopomp, responsible for guiding dead spirits to their final resting place and her priests are experts at holding funerals and memorial services.  Oh, and she is also seen as a patron of navigators :}


You will have noticed that these deities have things in common – which probably says something about the types of characters that I play and the games that I like to run.

All three of these demi-gods are associated with travellers, trade caravans, ships, merchant ships and the like,  which makes them ideal deities for the edges of civilization and the characters who make a living there. Currently, that is the NWN world I have been working on – and the ‘new’ game setting  that I have been playing around with for years.

TBH, these are some of the ‘better’ gods that I have designed over the years – the ones that I am happiest with and that are the most developed. There are a couple of others that I like almost as much,  but there are many more that haven’t really grabbed my attention and may never see the light of day again.

However, look out for another post at some point with details of:
1) The Royal Family Ancestors, a restrictive faith that came about because I wanted a Royal Family for Porters Bar that really did have divine ancestors.
2) My version of the Green Faith  – which started with some mythological tales about the Sun, Earth and Moon and grew into a mini-pantheon that includes the Sky and the Sea.

And then there may well be a further post that looks at the deities who will round out the pantheon in my NWN world.

  • Gasgano, the Eternal Sage (LN) (M)
  • Azan, Goddess of the Market (LN) (F)
  • Bagmet, the Mysterious (TN) (?)
  • Jack, the Butterfly of Galinia (TN) (M)

They haven’t been fully written up yet, but I suspect will make it into my overall pantheon of demi-gods.