Thursday, May 15, 2014

ACKS Variant Clerics - Deities

Been thinking about deities.  Sort of want to keep the Old-Testamenty feel of the original cleric, without the same deity.  So!  Terribly-misappropriated-and-somewhat-modified deities of the Old Near East.
  • Astarte (Ishtar+Artemis+Hecate+Eris)
    • Cosmological domain: Earth
    • Spheres of influence: Love, fertility, sex, wilderness, the hunt, fey magic, feminine wiles.
    • Epithets: The Elf-Mother, The Pale Goddess, The Insatiable One, Queen of the Cats, She-Who-Chases
    • Alignment: Neutral-leaning-good-side-of-chaotic; strife-inducing, life-giving, lustful chaos, along with capricious predation.  Doesn't bear any particular ill-will towards mankind, though they are sometimes a convenient prey species.
    • Natural disasters: Plague of rodents, plague of birth defects, predation of livestock
    • Curses: Impotence, syphilis, leothropy, wild magic
    • Smiting: Transform into antelope, goat, or other prey animal, castration
    • Blessings: Fertility, good health, stealth, good aim, good hunting, navigation
    • Gifts: Extended lifespan, bewitched chariot, magic bow and arrows, spellbooks and scrolls (usually enchantment or healing)
    • Favored people: Elves; sprang fully formed from her womb, first to walk the world
    • Worshippers: Amazons, witches, explorers, prostitutes
    • Servants: Ents, animal spirits, sabre-toothed tigers
    • Messengers: Wild ungulates, monkeys, housecats 
    • Shrine locations: Hunter's lodges, whorehouses
    • Holy places: Peaceful glades, game trails
    • Preferred sacrifices: Wild animals taken in the hunt, lovers of priestesses
    • Symbols: Pouncing leopard and leaping antelope in circle
    • Festival: Spring ('bring life back to the world')
  • Dagnu (Dagon) 
    • Cosmological domain: Sea
    • Spheres of influence: Fish, bounty, growth, luck, change.
    • Epithets: The Hungry Tide, The Waiting Serpent
    • Alignment: Chaotic; primal, capricious, scaly, deep and ravenous, but patient as only a creature of the ancient depths can be.
    • Natural disasters: Tsunami, flooding, rain of frogs, rain of whales
    • Curses: Rabies, scurvy, seasickness
    • Smiting: Turned to pillar of salt, turned into fish, rapid hypertrophy and subsequent explosion, lungs to gills
    • Blessings: Water breathing, scaled skin, growth and strength, aid of sea creatures, abundant crops and fisheries
    • Gifts: Supernatural ship, magic trident, magic net, magic cloak that turns you into a fish on command
    • Favored people: Merfolk, Thrassians (an old scaly god, Dagnu is...  from his depths the Thrassians once crawled)
    • Worshippers: Sailors, fishermen, thieves.
    • Servants: Sea serpents, water spirits
    • Messengers: Small lizards, dripping water
    • Shrine locations: Below high-tide mark (made of driftwood), on bridges
    • Holy places: Tidal bores, sea caves
    • Preferred sacrifices: Heads, skin, guts, and bones of caught fish, drowned virgins and goats (tied to shrines at low tide), fishermen overboard
    • Symbol: Sea serpents entwined around trident
    • Festival: Autumn ('for bountiful harvest') 
  • Hadad (Baal)
    • Cosmological domain: Sky
    • Spheres of influence: Thunder, rain, wind, war, horses.
    • Epithet: The Thundering Hooves, The Carrion-Feaster, Lord of Battle
    • Alignment: Neutral; a patron of conquerors, a builder of empires, but not a preserver thereof.  A god of the song of steel and saddle, and prone to stir up rebellion in times of peace, lest his children grow soft and unmanly.
    • Natural disasters: Tornado, drought, lightning storm, hail
    • Curses: Cowardice, haemophilia, berserker, feared by horses, harried by ravens
    • Smiting: Lightning from a clear sky, carried off by a roc or tornado
    • Blessings: Courage, skill at arms, good weather, good luck on campaign, battle-wisdom
    • Gifts: Magic weapons, magic horns and banners, supernatural steeds, cloak of feathers that transforms you into eagle on command
    • Favored people: Humans; born of union with Astarte
    • Worshippers: Barbarians, nobility, farmers
    • Servants: Rocs, winged men, air elementals
    • Messengers: Eagles, hawks, ravens, whispering breezes, howling winds 
    • Shrine locations: Along roads, mobile yurt-shrines
    • Holy places: Isolated mountain peaks, rookeries, old battlefields
    • Preferred sacrifices: Livestock and dying warriors offered to the buzzards, a conquered enemy
    • Symbols: Eagle with lightning bolt in talons, griffon
    • Festival: Summer ('bring us victory on campaign')
  • Kothar (Kothar-wa-Khasis, Haephastus, Prometheus)
    • Cosmological domain: Sun/fire; every day cast out of sky for his ugliness and presumption to create the dwarves.  Volcanos are where he has landed, the magma his blood, and gems his teeth.
    • Spheres of influence: Invention, crafts, treasures, learning.
    • Epithet: The Crippled Smith, The Illuminating Architect, The Law-Giver
    • Alignment: Lawful; encourages the creation of lasting and beautiful works, though sometimes envious of his children's greatest successes.
    • Natural disasters: Earthquake, volcano, rain of fire and brimstone, wildfire
    • Curses: Lameness, feeblemindedness, insanity
    • Smiting: Spontaneous combustion, petrification
    • Blessings: Astuteness, protection from fire, endurance, tool-blessing
    • Gifts: Automaton servants, magic armor, inspiration (often to spell-invention in transmutation or evocation), instant fortress
    • Favored people: Dwarves; carved them from stone in shameful mimicry of the elves, for desire of Astarte and children of his own.  For all his skill, he was doomed to create life in his own image.
    • Worshippers: Smiths, armorers, inventors, scribes, engineers
    • Servants: Golems, salamanders, fire and stone spirits
    • Messengers: Badgers, bees, visions in flames
    • Shrine locations: Forges, armories, gates
    • Holy places: Volcanic gas vents, magma flows
    • Preferred sacrifices: Masterful works of art thrown into magma flows, burnt offerings of mountain goat
    • Symbols: A smoking mountain, a tower
    • Festival: Winter ('bring warmth to us in these dark days')
  • Melek (Moloch) 
    • Cosmological domain: Civilization, cities
    • Spheres of influence: Trade, bargain, oaths, sacrifice, just desserts, dark deals, unpleasant truths, necessity.
    • Epithet: The Honest Demon, The Laughing Master, The Damning Savior
    • Alignment: Neutral-to-evil-side-of-lawful; subsists on civilization, patron of its vices.  He is the darkness in the alley, the coins pressed into the magistrate's palm, and the monkey's-paw-salesman.  He keeps his word, often to the detriment of his petitioners.
    • Natural disasters: Plague, rain of blood and sewage, transmutation of local coinage to lead
    • Curses: Leprosy, death mark, swindling
    • Smiting: Possession by evil spirit, delivery into the hands of an enemy
    • Blessings: Protection from evil spirits, good luck in trade, protection from disease
    • Gifts: Secret knowledge (often spellbooks or scrolls, typically illusion, divination, necromancy, or summoning), magic knives, ring of invisibility
    • Favored people: Zaharans?  Ratmen?  Products of civilized decadence, lately blights upon the face of the world.
    • Worshippers: Merchants, assassins, warlocks, desperate men
    • Servants: Shadowbeasts, doppelgangers, invisible stalkers 
    • Messengers: Shadows, imps, speaking coins, speaking rats
    • Shrine locations: West end of market square, hall of justice
    • Holy places: Darkened sanctums of opulent temples in major cities
    • Preferred sacrifices: A firstborn child, a man's honor, a secret unknown to any other living soul
    • Symbol: Horned demon with toothy mouth holding a bowl of fire in one hand and merchant's scales in the other (gemstone eyes optional)
    • Festivals: Ghost Dance in autumn, major market fairs in summer
I think I could write spell lists / alternate clerics for these, and five feels like right about the right number of major deities.  These are deities for a young world, where wilderness is dangerous and civilization more so, where barbarian hordes thunder down upon civilized river valleys from the steppe, where sea-travel is fraught with peril, where law and virtue are rare gems and seem never to last...

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