Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Malignant Powers

Countless malevolent forces circle Yane, but here are five of the more common Forsaken Gods--those evil powers who, while part of the world, work to subvert it.

ACAMAR, God of Evil Magic: [AK-ah-mahr]
LE Demigod of the Devils
Weapon: Staff
Color: Black
Omens: Falling stones, reflections, howling wolves, the number seven
Cleric Alignment: LE, NE, LN
Domains: Artifice, Community, Darkness, Death, Destruction, Evil, Fire, Knowledge, Law, Magic, Rune

Druids: No
Once an obsessed mortal, then a lich, Acamar  transcended life and undeath to become an infernal corpse-god with power over magic. Acamar weds a lich's obsession with knowledge to the infernal hierarchy's disciplined cruelty. Despite his arrogance and cruelty, he offers his knowledge generously. Often, the price is only the willingness to work the magic he offers.

ENGSUMA, The Ice Water Goddess: [eng-SOO-mah]
NE Primordial-Goddess of the White Gods
Weapon: Battle ax
Color: Ice Blue
Cleric Alignment: NE, LE, CE
Omens: Faces seen under ice, gusts that extinguish light, seals, orcas, sea birds
Domains: Animal, Darkness, Death, Evil, Repose, Strength, Water, Weather
Druids: Yes

The goddess of the freezing water beneath the ice, Engsuma is a harvester of souls. She loves hunger, cannibalism, and freezing, and favors ghouls (especially lacedons), ice zombies, and draugrs. Pirates honor her by freezing their enemies to death in salt water.

FLORETTE, Goddess of Agony Enbalmed: [flor-ET]
NE Godling of the Middle Gods
Weapon: Kukri
Color: Pink
Omens: Birth marks, scars, tattoos, butterflies, spotted animals
Cleric Alignment: LE, NE
Domains: Artifice, Death, Evil, Healing, Magic, Rune
Druids: No

An aspect of the Flayed Goddess of the Middle Gods, Florette focuses on the mortification of the flesh not for its own sake, but for enlightenment and power. Simani’s obsession with Florette (and her increased focus on metaphysics and conteplation) may have spelled the lich-queen's downfall. Florette encourages cults of mutilation and deprivation, especially among women and children, and surrounds herself with a coterie of mummy lords called the Thousand-Handed.

NE God of the Middle Gods
Weapon: Greatsword
Color: Purple
Omens: Bent coins, worms, starving animals, the number 100
Cleric Alignment: NE, LE, CE
Domains: Artifice, Community, Earth, Evil, Knowledge, Water, Weather
Druids: No

A god of robbers of all kinds, Joomrei Thahn is one of the great powers of the Middle gods, and has gained traction in Yane despite his lack of a strong undead focus. Elsewhere he is a god of greed and desperation, but on the Scarred Island, he emphasizes his power over the slow, consuming hunger of specters, shadows, and other ethereal undead. He also enjoys the worship of thieves, brigands, and merchants, the last of whom rely on Joomrei Thahn's banking network to maintain their supply lines with the mainland.
LATELLO, God of Royalty and Chaos: [lah-TEL-o]
CE Godling of the Hierarchy
Weapon: War fan
Color: Iridescence
Omens: Peacocks, the lotus flower, shimmering oils and smoke, stains, the number 26
Cleric Alignment: CE, NE, CN
Domains: Chaos, Charm, Evil, Glory, Liberation, Luck, Madness, Nobility, Trickery
Druids: No

When the Hierarchy fell, two true gods survived: the supreme Unconquered Sun, and his twisted, insane child, Latello. The chaos god's secret cult of poisoners, insane aristocrats, and revolutionaries spreads terror in the Remnant, but in Yane they seem more focused. Some whisper that Latello is not as insane as he appears, and has designs on one of the Ten Thrones of the Hierarchy, perhaps the Sun Throne itself. Demons serve him, and he has a particular fondness for vampires and death knights.

The truth is that it's hard to write a boring bunch of demon gods. I've found it best to create evil gods the way Robert Rodriguez (apparently) makes movies: I start with a big list of cool things. What do I want the adventurers to fight? Degenerate aristocrats, frozen cannibals, malevolent foreign banking interests, painted mummies, liches...okay, that's five, let's stop there.

I usually divide "bad guys" into two categories based on whether or not they could tempt a reasonable person. A mix of intriguing but evil powers and straight-up monsters works best. In Yane, Acamar offers knowledge and power without (immediate) obligation, Joomrei Thahn engineers situations where people must serve him and his network, and Florette, though unsavory, represents the sort of enlightenment and liberation that adventurers might not want, but can nonetheless understand. Engsuma and Latello, by contrast, are alien monsters.

Like with Yane's pantheon, I wanted a sense that these are the gods that just happened to wash up on the Scarred Island. They have little in common with one-another and they form no unified "society of evil gods"; other than Engsuma, they've had to twist their portfolios considerably to accommodate this new environment. On Earth, the gods we create bend to economic, political, and social forces; it will be interesting to see how "real" gods react to similar pressures.

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