Showing posts with label gods. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gods. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review: Calidar, Beyond the Skies

+Bruce Heard, formerly of TSR and of Mystara and "Voyage of the Princess Ark" fame, has been working on his new world Calidar for a little bit now.  I reviewed the premier product, Calidar in Stranger Skies, a while back and I really loved it.  I have used bits and pieces of this world in my own games now for a couple of years; building up to something a little bigger.   The great thing about Calidar, and what Bruce is doing with it, is it can be added to any game world or campaign with only a little bit of fuss.  OR you can go whole hog with it and have it as your game world.

The newest book out, Calidar, Beyond the Skies, really helps with either plan.

Ethics in Game Reviewing: I received a copy of hard bound book in exchange for a fair review.  All links are affiliate sponsored links.  Further disclosure: I was planning on reviewing this anyway, I just moved it up a little bit.

Calidar, Beyond the Skies is part campaign book, part cultural reference and part guide to gods.  There is only minimal stats in this book.  This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The obvious disadvantage is of course judging the power levels of the various gods.  I am going to say right now that this REALLY is not a disadvantage.  Gods are not Monsters.  Even in Calidar where the Gods often interfere in the affairs of mortals, those mortals are not going to pick a fight with them.  Relative powers are given and that really is enough.
The advantage is a true advantage.  Playing old school D&D? Great! Playing Pathfinder? Great! D&D5? Equally great!  But I am getting WAY ahead of myself.

I am reviewing the hard cover version of the book.  It is 248 full color pages on decent weight paper and full color covers.  I put the production values at the same level of the best of WotC's D&D or Paizo's Pathfinder.

The book begins with discussing the common abilities given to all divine beings and a discussion on what they are and do.  This follows a brief overview of the "planes".  This is a section worthy of the best of the TSR-era Manual of the Planes and right next to the 3rd Ed Manual of Planes.  I have to admit I love seeing the "energy" planes configured like a d10.  Totally using that one.

Since this is system free there is section on how to convert your system to something the book uses.  The easiest of course is a percentage system.  Depending on your game's chosen system there is a conversion here.

All of that and we are now into the "meat" of the book.  The map of the Great Caldera is given again with the countries and cultures highlighted.  This is important and a page I found myself coming back to as I read each section.  There is a great table on pages 14-15 that has every god, their cultures and their area of interest.   I was happy to see some overlap and missing areas.  Gods are not supposed to be neat and tidy things.  Some interests are over-represented, some have none at all and some gods stretch across more than one culture.
Ok at this point if you have ever read any "Gods" or "Pantheon" D&D book you can easily start making sense of things.

After this we cover the different pantheons and cultures.  We cover 10 such groupings of gods along with chapters on Rewards, the World Soul of Calidar and various godly trappings.

This is a book that takes full advantage of color.  Greater gods are in bold, evil gods are listed (title only not text) in red and benevolent gods are likewise in blue.  So a greater evil god is in bold Red.

When each grouping of gods is introduced we get the names and interests (spheres) of all that pantheon.   Common attributes for all the gods are given (what they have in common) and an overview of their Genesis story with a timeline.  We then get into some really interesting material.
A kind of flow chart is given on the relationships between the gods of the grouping.   This is best seen in the Gods of Nordheim, which are "imported" from Norse myths by travelers long ago.


After this each god is listed with a stat block of interests, allies, cults, foes, centers of faith and holy days.  Lots of details really.

There is so much in this book that I think it is going to take some more readings to digest it all. Each section also contains neat little bits like various temples, the gods' personal symbols, other bits to round out the faiths and make them feel like they real. In some, like for example the Gods of Meryath, weather (and in particular rain) are so important that the seasons are also discussed in relationship to the gods.

The last sections also detail various Elemental Lords, demons and mythological beasts and other near-divine beings.
 
There is a lot going on in this book.  If you are a fan at all of gods, myths and using them in your games then is a great addition.  Even if you don't play in the Calidar world this is a well thought out collection of myths.  I found this just as enjoyable as reading D&D's "Gods, Demigods and Heroes" the first time.   If you need some good, new-to-you-and-your-players gods then this is a must buy.

The art throughout is fantastic (that's Soltan of the Narwan on the cover) and really sets this book above others of it's kind.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Weekend Gaming. Modern threats and Ancient enemies

This weekend was the end of the first part of the module A3; the boys are about to enter the city of Sudderham.  But before they left the maze they took a long rest.

And then the dream sequence kicked in.
The boys were transported back to the Dawn War where He Who Was was killed by The Destroyer (who will become Demogorgon) and Dis, the god that dies and then becomes the demon Orcus.


The old Dungeons & Dragons toy troll and ogre are Demogorgon and Orcus prior to the battle respectively.

I had them fighting a new creature, well, new "then"; demons.

I ran the game using 30+ level "gods" using the B/X and Companion rules (with some AD&D 1 to smooth out some edges).

It was a lot of fun.

Now to tie it into the current adventure.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Blog Roundup: Gods, Vampires and Blinky Thieves

I have some edits that I need to make to Sisters of the Aquarian Order today, so I won't be getting that out to every just yet.

I have some posts I need to wrap-up, but I am headed to an early morning meeting today so some links will have to do.

+Ray Chapel over at Quasar Knight's Fantasy Blog has put together something I have been meaning to do for a while.  A comprehensive list of all the White Star products on OneBookshelf.
http://quasarknight.blogspot.com/2016/02/a-comprehensive-list-of-white-star.html
It is an impressive list to be honest.

+Sean McG over at The Power Score has done another of his fantastically detailed analysis of a D&D monster. This time it is for the Vampire. A long time favorite of mine.
http://thecampaign20xx.blogspot.com/2016/02/dungeons-dragons-guide-to-vampires.html


+Chris Kutalik and +trey causey have both given us some detail on the so called "Erol Otus Pantheon" on their respective blogs.
http://hillcantons.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-erol-otus-ddg-pantheon.html
http://sorcerersskull.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-otus-pantheon.html


It is a nice little trip back to the 80s.

+Mark Craddock has been steadily releasing D&D5 material over at the DM's Guild for a bit now.
His biggest project is Deities and Domains: Specialty Priests of the Forgotten Realms (39 Feats for 5E).  At 25 pages  and 39 dieties this is one of the larger products.  While overtly for the Forgotten Realms, there is so much here that any D&D 5 palyer should grab it and just swap out the names for their own gods.  Plus it comes with a printer-friendly version.  I am already using the cleric of Mystra, only in my game it is a cleric of Wee Jas.

His newest is Psionics Unearthed: Tesseract.   I just got it and love it.  The best way to describe it is "blinky thieves" but it would work for any martial class too.  It might actually be a little underpowered compared to say the Arcane Trickster, but the fact that a Tesseract can use their powers multiple times between long rests makes up for it.  My kids will fight over who gets to use this one!

My favorite though has to be Character Crucible: Dhampirs.
Not very large, but it does exactly what it needs to do.  The Dhampir is a great race to play in any version of D&D, but Mark capitalizes on the strengths of D&D5 to make a fun race.  I would have an easier time working these Dhampirs into my games than the Dragonborn and Tieflings my kids want to play all the time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wee Jas

Wee Jas, The Suel Goddess of Magic, Death, Law and...a bunch of stuff really.
Could she be more 80s chic?

Been thinking a lot about Wee Jas lately.
Ever since I first "discovered" her in the pages of Dragon magazine #88 I was enthralled with her.

She first appeared (I learned almost right after) in the World of Greyhawk boxed set.  All we knew about her then was she was a greater Suel goddess of magic and death.

Lenard Lakofka's article though gave us the most detail really.  That is where the picture on the right is from.
What do we learn about her?  Well at this point she is still a greater goddess of magic and death.  She knows every magic-user spell and all other spells to 5th level (why only 5th??).  She can cast up to 9 spell levels worth of spells each round; so 1 9th level spell or 9 1st level or any combination.  She has 90% magic resistance and a globe of invulnerability that floats around her.

She is attractive (Charisma 20) and always appears so.
If she is anything she is very lawful.  To the point where good and evil are mostly meaningless to her just as long as you are not chaotic.  In fact she pretty much hates anything chaotic except for the chaotic neutral god Norebo; who is her brother (or half-brother) and occasional lover.  Gods. Go figure.
In the letters section in a couple Dragons later it is mentioned that Norebo's entry mentions Wee Jas, but Wee Jas' doesn't.  The editors reply that it is because Wee Jas is loathe to admit it and Norebo could also be bragging.

By this point, this was all I knew about her. She was not yet known as "The Witch Goddess" but that is what I used her for.  Besides, take a look at her name.
Wee (We) and Jas (Ja), we ja or "we ya".  Or to spell it differently Ouija.  Her name certainly comes from Oui Ja, the French and German words for "Yes" and the basis of the name of the Ouija board. Plus magic and death.  Seems a dead give away.

After this Wee Jas' story gets weirder.  She is demoted, promoted, gains and loses domains.  Gets more evil, less evil. Picks up the title of Witch Queen somewhere along the way as well.  Canonfire, the great Greyhawk website, has spilled a lot of bits and bytes on this.


The Wee Jas Resurrected article is insteresting because it attempts to bring in a lot of these inconsistences and bring together to a complete and understandable whole.  For me the the bits on the rivalry of Wee Jas and Iggwilv were very interesting as well as making her one of the Suel gods/goddesses of Sex. Totally make sense really.  She even gains a "reformed" succubus, Zem'Jil, as a servant.

In truth the model for Wee Jas from our own world is Hecate, the Goddess of Magic, Witches, Ghosts, Necromancy and the Crossroads.   It is said that Wee Jas gaurds the doorways to the dead and the same is true for Hecate.  In fact I have used them rather interchangeblly for years.

I think for my own version of Wee Jas, I would start with the Dragon 88 version, add a little bit of what we saw in D&D 3.x, and then change her "Death" portfolio to "Spirits".  She can summon undead, and her priests may do so as well, but no raise dead spells.  I rather liked the Raven Queen from D&D4, so pass of Wee Jas' control of Death (save for spirits) to the Raven Queen.  Since the Raven Queen is described as a young or new Godess, it could even be that she is the daughter of Wee Jas.  Have to investigate this line further.

I would also change her Globe of Invulnerability into a ruby skull that floats and protectors her.  Maybe a former lover.  Keep Zem'Jil because that is just cool to have a succubus ally.  Give Zem'Jil some levels in witch too, since Wee Jas would be her patron.

Certainly would have to have her in my War of the Witch Queens adventure.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Role Do Gods Play in Your Games?

Working out some details for my games and it got me thinking about gods.

I am toying around with the idea that the gods are nothing more that super-powerful mortals ala the D&D Immortals rules.  I am even tossing around this idea that the gods loose their powers and fall to the Prime Material.

For example, I was thinking of making many of the goddesses of magic, witchcraft and the like really powerful witches, they have just come to be regarded as goddesses. So Hecate, Wee Jas, and the like.
Doing something similar with the various pantheons also seems to fix a few issues I am currently running into in my world building.

What roles do the Gods play in your games?  Do you use them much?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sol Invictus: The Unconquered Sun

The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake 
as the children of the sun began to awake. 

It's not easy pulling off a large mono-theistic religion in a FRPG, especially one where the world not only has a lot of pantheons, but also where all these goods are assumed to be real.
Fortunately there are plenty of examples from the real world.  Especially in the Christ-like figure of Mithra or Mitra and the similar Sol Invictus.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithraic_mysteries
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81ine

I think a god like Mithra would be interesting in D&D.

The Church of Sol Invictus
In my Mystoerth world the Church of Sol Invictus seeks to unite the faiths of the world under the banner of one Sun God.  They have a lot of influence in the temples of PholtusPelor, St. Cthubert and Ixion.  There are many similarities to this faith and the one of Taiia in 3rd Edition.

Proponents of Sol Invictus believe that their god is the only true god and all others are false gods or even worse elevated demons or mortals.

But the Church of Sol Invictus has a number of other, deeper secrets.
In addition to only recognizing the sun gods of various faiths as the only true god, they believe that these gods are really only aspects of a much greater god.
The high priests and the leader of the faith, known as "His Brilliance", feel that these aspects are in fact aspects of the god known as "He Who Was".

He Who Was was an ancient powerful god whose chief lieutenant was Asmodeus. At the behest of Tharizdun, Asmodeus tricked and betrayed this god. He was ambushed by Orcus, Demogorgon and a third demon whose name has been erased.  He Who Was managed to kill this other demon and even split Demogorgon into two.  Demogorgon later regenerated into  his current form, each half of his head regenerating in to two complete heads.  Orcus killed He Who Was and in a further act of desecration used his skull and spine as the the great Wand of Orcus.

The clergy of Sol Invictus believe then that by combining these aspects of the Sun God and destroying Orcus forever they can have their god reborn. They believe that this rebirth will make their god more powerful than he ever was.

In my larger world St. Aleena was also a follower of this philosophy and the Church of Law and Order in City of Dolmvay is just another aspect of this faith.

The major foes of this Church are followers of Orcus and pretty much any demonic cult.  Also feared and mistrusted are the faiths that follow the Moon.

The Church of Sol Invictus are among the main witch-hunters in my world.

I am planning to work elements of this church into my current game, but not sure how much detail the players are actually going to get.  The use a word my wife hates, I am going to let it grow "organically".

Some of this organic growth began when I first started pulling all this together for 4e. It was building the 4e version of Aleena that got this idea rolling again.  I guess this is one of the reasons I have not let go of my 4e books.  A lot of the fluff is still compatible with what I am doing in 5e.

Not everything is figured out though.
Given that I grew up in the 70s I would love to add some more left-over hippy shit to it all. I would love to add something like 12 houses to the faith, something along the lines of orders.  Or 7 orders and break them down by color.  The 7 orders actually fits better with some other things I had done in the past.  Each order representing a different aspect of the faith.  I had already figured out Red (Military might) and Blue (Knowledge/learning).  It should not be too hard to come up with something else.  Obviously Green could be related to growing things.  Violet could be Guidance. Why? Well it brings in a group I had created separately that could work into this faith.  Maybe they absorbed them.  I could even have a "Black" for the secret police within the faith.

I will give this some thought.  But yeah this could be fun.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gods of the Witches

Here is the second part of my Gods and Goddesses of the Witches.  Here are the gods.

Name of the God
It is no secret that much of witchcraft is “Goddess focused”, there is though a God as well.  Though he might get a secondary placement in some Traditions and ignored altogether in others, He is to most witches equally important.
Listed here are various Gods. Included in each listing are a description of that God, likely alignments and Domains as well as the Goddess they are consort to.

Apollo
God of light, prophecy, music and the sun.  He is twin brother to Artemis.  Witches that honor him are given the gift of prophecy.
Alignment: CG
Areas of Influence: Good, Light, Music, Sun
"Consort" to: Artemis

Cernunnos
Horned God of the Celts, master of the Hunt and Summer, Cernunnos is prototypical of the witch Gods. He is known as the Summer Lord and the Horned One.
He is also a fertility God, in this case male fertility. His horn crested head symbolizes masculine power
Alignment: N
Areas of Influence: Fertility, Harvest, Hunting, Summer
Consort to: Danu

Dagda
Earth and father God to the ancient Celts. He stirs the cauldron of creation. He mates with the Morrigan once per year, but shares his cauldron with Cerridwen.
Alignment: LN
Areas of Influence: Earth, Life and Death
Consort to: Cerridwen or the Morrigan

Dionysius
The God of wine in both it’s meanings. He is the God of abundance and religious ecstasy. He is also the God of drunken revelries, debauchery and madness.  Nymphs and satyrs always accompany his followers, called the Maenads or Mad Ones.
Consort to: No one.

Osiris
The Egyptian God of Life, Death and Rebirth.  He began as a God of the harvest, in particular corn. He is Brother to Set and Isis and husband to Isis. Set killed Osiris and cast away his dismembered body. Isis reunited his body parts and brought him back to life. He then became lord of the dead.  He is also the God of the Nile and Law.
Alignment: LG
Areas of Influence: Good, Earth, Knowledge, Life and Death
Consort to: Isis

Friday, September 6, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 6: Favorite Deity

Day 6: Favorite Deity

Tough one really.  As a kid I loved Hecate for obvious reasons. Her picture in the Deities & Demigods did nothing to dissuade me from my opinion either.

But it was Dragon #88 and Len Lakofka's Gods of the Suel Empire that introduced me to Wee Jas.
First I love that "Wee Jas" was a play on Ouija.  She was like Hecate, only more D&D.  I was a then (And still am to some degree) a fan of the Suel.  They nuked themselves out of existance, but very soon in our games "Suel" became our Shang-ri-la.
I liked Wee Jas because she was a witch goddess and a goddess of magic.  She was also a lawful goddess that hated demons and chaotic undead.  Since I also liked to play wizards and  Lawful Good clerics and paladins that hated undead and demons, she was the perfect intersection of all my interests.

Typically when I use her now she is a cross between Hecate and a little bit of Cardea.
 


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Demogorgon for Unisystem

Demogorgon, Demon Prince of Fiends

And by them stood Orcus and Hades, and the dreaded name of Demogorgon.
- Milton, Paradise Lost.

It is contended by some that this demon prince is supreme. His hatred for Orcus is immense and unending, followed closely by his hatred for Grazzt.
- Gygax, Monster Manual

Demogorgon, The Great Fiend, Prince of Demons.

Note: Like Orcus, some of this information is based on previous works, some of it is based on historical records and some more is completely made up.

Demogorgon is the Prince of Fiends. He (and it should be noted here and now that he is only used as a convenience, it is possible that Demogorgon is a she or an it or a both or neither, sages simply do not know) is the greatest of their number and is their ruler.

Much mystery surrounds the being known as Demogorgon. His name comes from the late Latin meaning Terrible Demon, but there are claims that he is a Greek chthonian god, or even something far more primal.

What is known is this. Demogorgon is ancient. He was old even in the pre-history of humankind. He has taken upon himself the mantle of The Prince of Demons, though there are very few that can actually challenge him in this role. In addition he is known as The Great Fiend, Lord of the Abyss, and The Great Beast. When the angels fell and took up lordship in Hell, Demogorgon was already there. He (and Orcus) greeted Lucifer and his angels. It is likely that he was kicked out since he now resides in Chesed. It is possible that his wars with Orcus and Belial began here.

Unlike other demonic creatures, Demogorgon is not a fallen angel or god. He has always been a fiend. As he has aged and evolved he has become more demon like. Or, if as speculated, he is the original demon and the fallen angels became more like him. Some occult scholars have even speculated that he might belong to that quasi-mythical group known as Proto-demons, which puts him closer in nature to likes of Pazuzu than Lucifer.

Motivations and Goals

Like most fiend lords, Demogorgon is obsessed with spreading his power. However the Great Fiend has had his share of battles. For example his war with Orcus is legendary and the populations of entire worlds have been spent in this never ending war. There was a time when it seemed Demogorgon had the upper hand, but he has been dealt a number of crushing reversals of late. He and Orcus are once again at a standstill, with Orcus possibly having the upper hand. He is also know for his battles with the Abat-Dolor demons whose leader is Grazzt, and those battles have picked up once again after some time of reduced activity. Grazzt covets Demogorgons title as Prince of Demons, something he sees himself as. Orcus and Demogorgon simply hate each other.
Less well know are his battles with the Fallen Angel/Arch Devil Belial, also known as Beliar. Though that war has been at a standstill for a number of centuries.

But more than anything Demogorgon is about change. He evolves and changes to fit the needs of the times. Some claim this is due to his dual brained nature of his two independent heads, others say it because he has been around for so long he has seen evolution in action and understands it at a level that even the Creator does not comprehend. What ever the case one factor is for certain, in their epoch stretching war Orcus has never gained a major victory despite a never end supply of undead minions. Minor ones yes, but never a major one.  Demogorgon has reigned supreme or at the very least had minor setbacks.

Even among the fiend lords Demogorgon has a peculiar hobby, he has spent millennia breeding different species of man, animal and fiend to produce new races. There seems to be no purpose in this other than the pursuit itself. Nearly every imaginable combinations and abominations can be found roaming free in his realm. Demogorogon has kept Mendelan like records that go back thousands of centuries on his successes, failures, reattempts, all with a methodical meticulousness that makes the handful of scholars that have seen them believe the theory that this is just one, extremely old creature.

Though it is whispered, there is another theory. That Demogorgon is in fact a title and not the Great Fiend's name. That over the wastes of time there have been many Demogorgons, one taking over when the previous one dies, all taking similar form, and maybe even the true essence (and Essence) of the Prince of Demons. This theory could help explain the seeming contradictions in his character. While dismissed by older sages and occultists there is a growing number of younger occult scholars that have embraced this idea and have taken to calling the creature The Demogorogon. There are at least two creatures, both extremely powerful fiends that occult scholars point to as examples. The greater fiends Aameul and Hethradiah (known as his right hand) were known to be powerful lieutenants of Demogorgon that were either killed (and unravelled), absorbed into the Demon Prince, or became The Demogorgon.

Regardless of which interpretation is true, there is no way to know for sure and all contact with Demogorgon is only likely to be with one entity in particular. Unless of course one is present when this theorized transfer of power occurs, and that is only likely if the cast are the main sacrifices or on the menu, or both.

In nearly all cases and examples throughout time, Demogorgon prefers to work through his cults (even if he pits these cults at cross purposes) rather than become directly involved. You wont see full manifestations of The Prince of Demons in the streets of New York either Pre- or Post- Rekoning (WitchCraft).

Appearance

The renowned sage Gygax described the Great Demon thusly, Demogorgon appears as an 18-foot tall reptilian-humanoid. He has two heads that bear the visages of baboons. His blue-green skin is plated with snake-like scales, his body and legs are those of a giant lizard, his twin necks resemble snakes, and his thick tail is forked. In place of arms, he has two huge tentacles.

Demogorgon can change his form at will, depending on his mood. While he will typically appear as described above, he can alter that facade. Changes can be subtle, mandrill or hyena heads for example, or to a more sinuous body like that of a snake rather than a reptile. Demogorgon can also appear human as he wills. His most common guise is that of a tall man of indeterminate age and race (eye witnesses always differ on accounts) with two notable features, his eyes are always yellow tinged with red and he stands before them naked, clothed only in shadow and bald. Scholars speculate that this could be the Dark Man of many Wicce ceremonies (a notion that the Wicce universally deny). Other point out that until knowledge of Demogorgon's war with the demon Grazzt was known that there were no manifestations of Demogorgon beyond the classical fiendish one.

Those encountering the Great Demon report an overwhelming feeling of fear and dread. They describe feeling that they are in the presence of an ancient and alien evil. Those that have communicated with him describe a tumult of voices, of different ages, nationalities, genders, and description, but all cruel and evil. One occult scholar wrote that two voices, male and female, were foremost, but thousands of others could be heard in the background.

The Lair of Demogorgon

Like most fiendish realms, the Lair of Demogorgon is located in the Sephiroth of Chessed. The lair of the Great Fiend resembles an infinite lush topical rainforest full of every manner of life, both mundane and fiendish. Visitors from Malkuth (Earth) are reminded of the primal forests of South America or the jungles of India and Africa. Yet even the terrene dangers of those places are paled with the horrors of the jungles of Demogorgon. Other areas resemble great fetid bogs that stretch for miles and whose depths have never been explored, and great flat deserts of salt where the creatures survive beneath a white-hot sun by drinking the fluids of anything (or anyone) they capture.
Know by some as Abysm, Ungurth Reddik, and to others as The Gapping Maw, it is the home not only to Demogorgon and several thousand lesser fiends, but also to the two primary branches of Demogorgons cult (the third is situated wholly on Earth), many species of primates and reptiles of varying degrees of intelligence, dinosaurs and ancient reptiles, but also to several thousand humans stuck in a tribal state of development. It appears that the humans sole purpose for being here is to provide sport for the cultists of Demon King.

The Cult of Demogorgon

Demogorgon supports three very active (respective to their areas of control) cults. While separate and most time even ignorant of each other, the cults operate in similar fashions and all three, whether known or not, have the same goals; destruction, violence and the promotion of the will of Demogorgon.

The Blood Apes
The largest cult of Demogorgon, is a cult of intelligent Gifted apes. They are often referred to as The Blood Apes due to their habit of bathing in the blood of fallen enemies and comrades. These cultists actively worship Demogorgon as their god and attribute to him all spoils. The doctrines of the cult emphasize destruction and violence. In Apeworlds that feature these cultists they are most often intelligent baboons, mandrills, gibbons and sometimes gorillias. All are carnivores and keep human or (where appropriate) chimpanzee slaves. It is even whispered among the human populations that some humans are kept in an attempt by Demogorons Heirophants to breed true a race that features the most terrible qualities of both ape and man. Others claim they have already succeeded.

The Ophiacodontids
Constantly at war with the Blood Apes are the Ophiacodontids. Each cult believes there are the only true followers of the Great Fiend. The Ophiacodontids might have the edge in shear age, but the Blood Apes outnumber them 20 to 1. The Ophiacodontids are a race of intelligent synapsids that have, over the millennia of a carefully controlled eugenics program have assumed more upright and human-like form.
The Ophiacodontids were the first worshippers of Demogoron, living during the primeval dawn of the Earth during the Permian Period some 250-290 Million years ago. Their astrologers saw the end of the Permian Period that ended in the extinction of close to 90% of all life, a time we now call The Great Dying. The previously cold and scientific race turned to a doomsday religion with Demogorgon as their God. Demogorgon took the Ophiacodontids to his realm and there they continued their epoch long degradation as a species.
Wars between the two cults are a frequent occurrence with the Blood Apes pitting brutal and effective savagery against the Ophiacodontidae calculated cruelty. The only time they do not fight each other is when both tribes hunt humans for food or slave labor.
The symbol of the Ophiacodontids is the Amphisbaena, a great serpent with heads on both ends.

The Humanist Ecological Liberation League
The third and most radical of Demogorgons cultists is a group of Gifted humans living on Earth known as the Human Ecological Liberation League, or HELL. True to their name, they are a radical group of ecological terrorists and even the radical ELF (Earth Liberation Front) has disavowed them. HELL has claimed responsibility in billions of dollars in property damage to developers working in areas they have deemed protected, including the destruction of an off-shore oil rig that was drilling through a coral reef, a lumber company burned to the ground in South America and the destruction of computers used in a Midwestern America coal strip mining firm. They are also believed have been involved in various murders and disappearances of various persons from corporate executives down to a group of factory workers processing wood.
The members are for the most part the sons and daughters of Baby Boomers who instilled the ideas of activism into them, but not the restraint. Many hail from various Associations, with the Wicce being predominant. The various Wicce groups are quick to denounce them and reiterate that methods of HELL are not that of the Wicce. Even the Rosicrucians side with the Wicce on this issue and consider HELL to be the single greatest threat to exposure. Given that HELLs tactics are as subtle as a sledgehammer, both groups also agree that there is no way they could be part of the Combine.
The fact is the members of HELL, despite what they might believe themselves, are not Wicce or Rosicrucians at all, but in fact a cult dedicated to Demogorgon. Demogorgon is known to upper echelon of the cult, but the rank and file do not. The leaders commune with the Great Fiend, who appears to them as the Wicce Dark Man.
The upper ranks believe that Demogorgon represents nature, raw and untouched by man, and that centuries of human dogma has demonized him. They honestly believe they are doing the work of a wronged divine being. HELL is only vaguely aware of the other cults, and those that do believe that they were pre-historic antecedents (which is true) that died out epochs ago (which isnt true).

Demogorgon in Your Games

As with any super-powerful fiend care must be taken about how Game Masters introduce him to their game. The Casts primary contact with the Great Fiend should be through rumor only. The appearance of two headed snakes and frogs are common signs. Dealing with his cult, especially HELL could provide enough for an entire series of episodes. The cast can get to the top of a local HELL cell, only to discover that there is much more and all of it is controlled by a fiend that very few legends even mention.

Roleplaying Demogorgon versus The Demogorgon
Demogorgon has the potential of being the most ancient, powerful and dangerous entity the characters or the players have ever encountered. If He has been around since the Permian times that would equate to 240 to 290 Million Years, that is at least 2.4 to 2.9 Million levels of Age. Even if he was down for more than half that time (say he was only active when there were active worshipers) that is still about 40 million extra skill points! Obviously he cant have that much. But there are still problems with dealing with such an ancient, alien creature. One option is to cut him down to size.
Explore the possibility that Demogorgon is in fact a title given to most powerful fiend in existence. When that fiend is killed, or dies for whatever reason, a new Demogorgon is appointed. This would be the biggest secret in all the infernal realms, and quite an adventure for the Cast that discovers it. Maybe the current Demogorgon is ancient and a new fiend has challenged him to rule over all the fiends. A fight ensues and the younger fiend emerges victorious! Only to be subjected to a painful transformation where he becomes the new Demogorgon. Maybe Orcus did defeat Demogorgon once, only to be transformed to the new one.
Another possibility for adventure is a current demon adversary manages to learn the secret and becomes, through duplicity, the new Demogorgon. Now the cast is really in trouble.

WitchCraft
Demogorgon has been pulling in races from as far back as the Permian times from the continent of Pangaea. One could only imagine the knowledge he has collected from Lemuria, Atlantis, Hyborea or other long lost lands of occult wisdom. Imagine the surprise of your Immortal Templar when a creature looking like a cross between a toad and a monkey appears and starts talking about the flying mind ships of his ancestors. It is quite certain that Demogorgon has in his possession knowledge of the Greater Keys of Solomon. And his interactions with the Wicce and Rosecrucians have already been noted.
It is also during this time that HELL is most active.
Demogorgon, when he rarely ventures to Earth, can remain for 16 days.

Armageddon
Demogorgon is of a mind to take advantage of the situation and unleash new hells on the Earth. Most associations would disdain contact with him, even those aligned with the Infernal Realms. While mostly low-profile during the pre-Reckoning, Demogorgon sees the post-Reckoning world as the means to gain control. While not stopping the Cult of Leviathan, he is not working with them either.
In the Post-Reckoning Demogorgon can remain in the mortal world for 80 days at a time.

AFMBE (D&Z)/Terra Primate/Army of Darkness
Demogorgons lair itself, despite its supernatural placement, can be used as a fantastic Ape / Dead World. Follow the Lost Continent example from Terra Primeate (after all what continent is more lost than Pangaea?) Humans, intelligent apes, even some intelligent bipedal reptiles can be created here in their daily struggle for life, not against the forces of darkness, but from within the heart of darkness itself. Travelling to the lair is the kind of stuff that makes legends out of characters in Dungeons & Zombies (remember Queen of the Demonweb Pits?) and Army of Darkness.

Ghosts of Albion (and other CineUnisystem games)
Scientific thought is embracing the world. Industry is growing and the world is shrinking. The gap between those that have and those that have not has never been more profound. Sounds ripe for fiendish influence. To date Demogorgon has shown no interest in Ablion (or Alba or Éire for that matter either), but the defeat of Balberith has sent a ripple through the supernatural world and now everyone's attention is on the tiny isle of Albion. After all two-siblings, barely adults even by human standards, defeated one of Lucifer's most powerful lieutenants, they cant be lucky all the time.

Unisystem Stats

Demogorgon

Other names: The Great Fiend, The Demon Prince, Lord of the Brine Flats, Lord of the Gapping Maw, The Demon King.
Type: Greater Fiend (Demon)
*Though a Fiend, Demogorgons nature is closer to demonic.


Attributes
Strength: 18
Dexterity: 15
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 12
Perception: 18
Willpower: 16

Secondary Attributes
Endurance: 340
Speed: 58
Armor: 28

Essence: 228
Vital Essence: 456
Channelling level: 9

Life Points (when Manifested): 430

Qualities
Acute Senses (all)
Age +40* (best estimate)
Ambidextrous
Charisma +4
Essence Channelling +9
Hard to Kill +20
Increased Essence Pool +13 (+65 Essence Points)
Increased Life Points +12 (+120 LP)
Natural Toughness
Nerves of Steel +4
Greater Fiend
Supernatural Senses (including see Invisible)

Drawbacks
Adversary (lots, powers of good and evil) 10
Attractiveness 2
Covetous, Greedy 3
Cruel 3
Delusions of Grandeur -3
Obsession, genetic experimentation 4
Paranoia 4
Taint Vulnerability
Zealot

Skills
Languages (all) +10
Theophany skill
Brawling +18
Bureaucracy +12
Cheating +9
Craft, Weapons +12
Craft, ritual items +10
Dodge +10
Hand weapons, sword +16
Hand weapons, others +10
Magic Theory +16
Magic bolts +15
Myths & Legends, Greek +16
Myths & Legends, Pre-historic +16
Notice +16
Occult Knowledge +18
Questioning +14
Rituals (Wicce, Rosicrucian) +15

All other skills at +5

Metaphysics
Bad Luck 9
Destroyer 8 Destruction
Dark Vision
Essence Drain Demogorgon can drain 10 points of Essence per touch.
Essence Shieldings
Gaze Attacks
- Beguiling (left head), victim must make contested Willpower check to avoid catatonic stupor for number of turns equal to the difference in Willpowers.
- Hypnosis (right head), victim must make contested Willpower check to avoid following Demogorons wishes for number of turns equal to the difference in Willpowers.
- Insanity (both heads together), victim must make a contested Willpower check or go insane.
Regeneration Regenerates his current CON in LP per minute. Drained Essence can be added to Life Points or Essence (Vital or Pool).

Rotting Touch - Any living creature touched by Demogorgons tentacles must make a Constitution (doubled) check, or its flesh and bones begin to rot. The victim takes 1d4(2) points of Constitution damage immediately and 1 point of Constitution damage every hour thereafter until it dies. Any healing invocation will halt the damage, but lost points return only with natural healing and cannot be restored with magic.

Keys of Solomon
As the Prince of Demons Demogoron also has access to the Keys of King Solomon.
He will typically use the following:
Key of the Seraphim* (can only use it on demons)
Key of the Spirit (can only use it on fiends)
Key of War

Combat
Melee, bite, 2 attacks, bonus: +33, damage d4(2)x16, poison
Bite Poison strength rating 6, damage 2d6(6)+6.
Melee, tentacles, 2 attacks, bonus: +33, damage: d6(3)x18, Essence Drain, Rotting.
Melee, tail, 1 attack, bonus: +31, damage d6(3)x19, Essence Drain.

Demogorgon can summon 4-24 fiends to aid him. These fiends regard him has their lord and will obey him without question.
He can also summon up to a dozen lesser demons and fiends to aid him. These demons and fiends are less loyal, and will flee if the fight is going against them.


Blood Apes

Strength: 5-6
Dexterity: 3-4
Constitution: 5-7
Intelligence: 3-4
Perception: 3
Willpower: 3

Essence: 22-27
Life Points: 56-68

Qualities: Gift, Hard to Kill 2

Skills: Brawling 5, Handweapon (sword) 3

Metaphysics: Invocations

Blood Apes appear as any intelligent ape type found in Terra Primate, save that these creatures also wield magics. Most are Lesser Gifted, with a few tribal leaders as Gifted. Mundanes, if sufficiently brutal in other forms of life are allowed to live.

Ophiacodontids

Strength: 4
Dexterity: 3-5
Constitution: 3-4
Intelligence: 4-7
Perception: 4
Willpower: 6

Essence: 24-30
Life Points: 41-45

Qualities: Gift, Hard to Kill

Skills: Brawling 3, Handweapon (sword) 4

Metaphysics: Seer powers

Opiacodontids are a race of bipedal synapsids that have evolved under Demogorgons guidance. They consider the Great Demon to be their god. They do not differ much in terms of physical size and strength from humans. They tend to be a bit smarter on the average and have stronger wills.
Opiacodontids also posses Seer/Psychic powers with the vast majority Lesser Gifted and an elite minority Gifted. Mundane creatures are killed at birth.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gods, Demigods and Heroes

I have been thinking about Gods and the like in my games for some time now.  Now that I am going to be playing Pathfinder as well as 4e I thought I would look into some gods for my Mystoerth world.

Now Mystara didn't have gods, but Greyhawk does and so do all the other worlds I am using here.
A few I know I am going to use and where they all fit.

Gods
Ancient beings of great power.  The next generation after the Titans and Primordials.  Gods differ from humans and the others in many respects.  Gods can have Aspects and Avatars, which are semi-independent versions of themselves that can interact in the world.  Demons and Devils can have Aspects too, but generally only one at a time and for them it is more like Astral Projection.
Gods also have the power of creation.  They created their specific races, or the lands, or even the world.

Bahmut and Tiamat -Bahmut (and his Dragonlance cousin Paladine) has become the god of Lawful Good paladins since the 3.0 days.  This is only reinforced in 4.0.  Plus he is a very D&;D god, with ties back to the first Monster Manual and featured in the Dragonlance sagas.

Tiamat is a given for the same reasons, but she was also a god in myth in her own right.  Though given that in Babylonian myth she was the god of Chaos, I would change her alignment from LE to CE and put her in the Abyss.  In fact the Abyss is there there because she was tossed into it.


 Sehanine / Selûne / Shar - Three aspects of the same moon goddess. Represent the Maiden, Mother and Crone aspects of the Triple Goddess. Neutral.

Wee Jas - Goddess of Magic and Death. The Witch Queen.  Worshiped by the Suel. Mix in bits of Hecate, Cardea, Isis and Mystra to her.  Her student was Ioun.  LN.

Others
Bast Egyptian - Goddess of Cats and the hunt. CG
Blibdoolpoolp (Greyhawk) - Goddess of the Kuo-toa and other deep see nasties. Maybe a daughter of Dagon and consort of Demogorgon (ick). CE
Camazotz (Aztec) - the Bat God, I like having him as the god Vampires too, great rivalry exists between him and Orcus. Camazorz doesn't control vampires, but some vampires and vampire cult pay him homage. CE
Celestian (Greyhawk)-  God of the stars.  Have to include him. Neutral
Corellon - God of Elves.
Gruumsh - God of Orcs. Neutral Evil.
Istus (Greyhawk) - Goddess of Fate. Neutral
Lovitar (Realms/Finnish) - Everyone needs a crazy S&M chick.
Set - God of Evil.
Surtur - Fire Giants and Thrym - Frost Giants, both from Norse myth, but folded into the D&D myths.
Vaprak, the Destroyer - God of Trolls and Ogres. Though I have considered having this just be an aspect of Demogorgon.

I plan to use Earth myths when I can.  For example my Desert Elves worship elven versions of the Egyptian Pantheon.  Isis is an elf, but Set is human since according to these elves humans are the greatest evils in the world.

Devils
The new editions of D&D (3.x, Pathfinder and 4) have Asmodeus listed as a god.  Now I have no issues with that per se.  I even think the back story of Asmodeus rising to power that started with the Dragon Mag article "Politics of Hell", on through the Blood War stuff and finally his triumph at becoming a Dark God is an interesting one.  But it does't work for me.   See I would rather set Devils up as the alternatives to Gods.  The devils temp mortals away from the "proper" religions to worship them.  Why would a mortal worship a lesser beign like a Devil?  Simple, the devils provide a quick avenue to power.  Gods, even evil ones, require faith and worship and service, the rewards then are given based on that faith.  Devils tell the mortals "hey, why do all that work when you can work with us and get all those benefits now."  Devils also side with mortals against the Gods.  They will remind mortals that the Gods have it easy while they work and toil.  They even try to promote kinship, "hey the Gods cast us out, so we are on your side."  Of course these are all lies, but situated in enough truth that mortals keep falling for them.   Asmodeus then is not a Dark God, but the most power Arch Duke there is and his power is equal to that of a god or goddess.  The Devils will even point out that one of their own rose to such power that is should be possible for everyone to do it.
The devils now have moved beyond the "Blood War" of 2nd ed and are now going to engage in a "Gods War" with the battlefield the mortal realms.  I think a good story for the PCs would be to become part of this "Gods War".  I alluded to it a little in my Buffy adventure, The Dragon and the Phoenix.
Afterall what would be more climatic than all the heroes, each representing their God, on the field of battle against the greatest foe in humanity.    I might drop my "Vs. Orcus" idea for this instead.

Demons
The Abyss is the sewer of the multi-cosm.  Everything that gets flushed, thrown out, discarded and forgotten ends up here.  Of courses there were plenty of things here to start with.  Demons are legion.  There are thousands of types, races, and varieties.  Some, like Orcus, are "dead" Gods.  Others, like Demogorogn, used to be Titans.   Others still are cast out gods (not sent to Hell), forgotten powers or even monsters that have become very, very powerful.  There are even ones that were spawned by the Abyss itself.  If the ultimate purpose of the Devils is the destruction of all the Gods, then for Demons it is just destruction.
The Blood War, the war between the Demons and the Devils, was a minor skirmish in the long range plans of the Devils.  In fact prior to the Blood Wars, demons and devils had been on working terms.  The devils would often use demons as grunts in their battles.  This went on for so long that some species of demon were once considered to be devils and visa-versa.   Graz'zt, the Demon lord, had been an Duke of Hell, till he went native.  Succubi are constantly switching allegiances between demons and devils that they are difficult to properly classify.


Demogorgon - Older than the gods.  A Titan that has become more demonlike.  Hates Orcus.  Only worshiped by non-humans and insane cultists.  Just wants to destroy everything. CE.

Jubilex - Demon lord of slimes.  Created from the Abyss itself.  It is as if all the waste and runoff of the Abyss collected into a conscious form.  Deeply, deeply insane.  Wants the entire multcosm covered in acidic slime.

Orcus - Was a god, then demonized, killed, came back as undead, became a demon again.  GEnerally just an angry dude.  Hates undead, but hates them less than he hates everything else.  Wants to become the God of the Dead.  CE.


Primordials and Titans
Like in Greek myths, the Titans were the "parents" of the Gods.   Some gods from other games might end up here.  I prefer to figure these out as I need them.  The Scarred Lands books from Sword and Sorcery Studios were good for this concept as well.  They had a lot of interesting titans.  Theirs though were outright evil, I prefer to have my titans more uncaring about humans.  The world was theirs, now it isn't anymore and they are not happy about it.  Most of the titans are dead, others are imprisoned or converted to demons.

Primordials came even before the Titans and represent raw nature or natural aspects of the world.  Earth, Sky, Night, Death.  These things are hard to personify into human terms so Primordials are not really like the gods or titans at all.  Primordials do not care about worship or humans although some are aware of such actions.  In some cases my "Titans" are what other games "Primordials" are and my Primordials are something different.

Mad Gods
Have to include these. Things like Leviathan, Cthulhu and the rest certainly will have a place in my game.

For me Gods need to be complicated.  The characters live in a world where they can travel to the planes, commune or other wise get "evidence" for their faith.  I think I might make this a bit tougher is some cases and even out right prohibit in others.
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