Saturday, July 1, 2017

Faiths of Sublanarya: Saint Umber, The Nameless God and the Lost Crusade

"Aye, sir. I seen it. I seen it with me own eyes. I've seen them.

There was a storm, a storm so bad we was lost for weeks. Lot of good swabbies fell o'board, we ran out of chow and grog and the captain, oh the poor captain he went mad. The clouds and fog were so thick we ha'nt seen a spot of sunshine or blue-sky in days. The captain was at the wheel. The ship ran aground in the frozen wastes; he landed her just north of the Devil's Bident and it was the bitterest cold, sir. We was bundled up tighter than sausages but we still felt the old man death nipping at our fingers and noses. We should've seen about turning the ship around, sir, but, sir...

The captain had gone ashore. The poor fool.

I was his first mate, sir. I had no choice. I took a row boat and a few men ashore. The land there is so dead that, over the whistle of the wind, the only sounds were us: each foot step crunching on the frozen ground, each shiver chattering our bones, and each raspy breath we took seemed to stop just out of our field of vision.  Still, it weren't too hard to figure out. We found the captain's trail. We found the other rowboat, we found his footsteps, we found his clothes-- the captain was surely dead but we pressed on a little farther into the biting wind.

There's nothing up there. Just empty wastes and ice and, or rather sir, or so we thought. We saw an outline of somebody out in the cold darkness. Lantern held high, I called out for the captain, sir. They walked forward sir and, for a moment, there was hope. But as we stood there, silently, staring in the darkness, we heard clacking of joints and clinking of chain, and we knew something was wrong.

It weren't the captain, sir. It was a soldier, a legionnaire, sir, a knight of the Imperium. 'cept they was long dead. When the lantern lit their face, we saw there was no skin or flesh or anything, so to speak, to talk to. Just a skull. The men fled, mad, back the way we came. I froze there, just for a moment, just long enough to see them.

To see that there were hundreds sir, no thousands, an army, sir! An army of the dead!" An account by Captain Lou Bluetooth recorded by the Imperian bishop Deacano

The Legend of the Lost Crusade begins not in the frozen wastes of the Hold or in the valleys or mountains of the Imperium but in the desert kingdoms of northern Ptah-Hamut and Nadjabad with the Bloody Crusade in the 64th century CE.

An order of Imperian knights calling themselves the Bleeding Cross, a splinter off from the templar order of the Red Star, were led by the insistence of the Imperator and their order's leader, a holy general by the name of Waldar Dux. The general led his order across the Zafarian Sea and into the south-western continent on a crusade to retrieve stolen artifacts that, long before the Imperians ever arrived in Sublanarya, the Hamutians and Zafarians had taken from ancient temples of the Nameless God. General Dux's zealous conquest met heavy resistance and he died upon the battlefield. A young commander, Umber Rubela, rose to take his place and managed to salvage the crusade. After many victories, they failed to find the artifacts they had sacrificed so many lives to find and return to their homes. Instead, they found loyalty and exaltation for Umber, who the revered as a living saint.

Umber showed incredibly foresight, fortune and vision, all seen as gifts from the Unnamed God, and is victories were seen as miracles. His men saw him as the next prophet, the successor to Croma, and that he should take the imperian throne for himself. He gathered many followers and took his forces back to the imperian capitol. The imperator prepared for civil war but it did not come.

Instead, St. Umber asked for audience with the imperator. He explained to the ruler that he had a vision that they were to build a new kingdom in the northern wastes of the Hold and that he was to rule the empire jointly with his holiness. He would establish a second capitol in the north called Penumbra. The imperator and his advisors saw the young soldier's vision as madness and rejected his request for their support. He left the palace, in peace, and, disregarding their skepticism, he took his forces into the Hold and northward on what Umber called "The Dawn Crusade".

Tens of thousands of priests, holy knights,and acolytes of the prophet's vision followed him on this journey across the Shield Mountains. They were never seen again.

The truth behind the prophet's powers was discovered long after his crusade left the imperium's lands. He was born into a powerful cult within the templars that worshiped a sacrilegious aspect of the Nameless One known as samael or "the goat".

He had acquired unsavory powers and his intention was to undermine the empire to "reveal the truth" behind their god's faith.

Umber believed that all interpretations of their lord, even the cult's, were blasphemous. He led General Dux to his downfall so that he could take control of their crusade and guide it down the path that he saw.


A path where he could conquer death and prepare for the return of the Morning Star as his only true, loving and loyal servant.

The Hold is a mysterious and dangerous wasteland. There have been no good maps, save those performed by mariners of the coastlines, and it was believed that crusade had become lost and met some terrible fate beyond the mountains that guard civilization from the savagery of the Hold. There are rumors, stories and speculation that says otherwise.

The biggest obstacle of colonizing the far north is the unbearable cold. No mortals could survive in those cold and barren wastes. They are empty of liquid water or food. And the freezing temperatures are so deadly that exposure would kill any person within minutes. There were many theories on how they could survive: magic, divine or arcane, could allow them to overcome the freezing cold. Or perhaps they could find an ancient dwarven city or cavern that would guard them from it and provide subterranean vittles. But the truth is far more terrible.

The barbarians of the Hold, those who were friendly enough to trade with dwarves that live in the Shield mountains, told spooky stories of walking dead wearing white with red crosses began traveling down to imperian ears. Countless civilizations were said to have ruins in the Hold and so accounts of undead were not uncommon in the Hold but the red crosses on white cloth were the dress of the Bleeding Crosses.

A terrible and worrying legend was born: far in the north, where the sky is darkened by thick clouds and the no mortal treads, there is a city of the dead, the city of Penumbra, a capitol for an undead kingdom. The legend says that they are ruled by a saint used a dark ritual to make himself and his followers immortal so that they could survive in the isolation of the frozen north. There this undying empire waits, faithful and grateful, for the return of their god.

The Nameless God
Title(s)
The Unnamed, The Lord, the Forgotten, the Morning Star, The Betrayed

Pantheon(s)
New Gods

Power Level
??? Deity

Alignment
?????

Symbol
A six pointed star with an eye in the center of an overlapping cross

Portfolio
Humanity, creation, righteousness, loyalty, piety

Domains
Life, War, Death

Worshipers
Humans, dwarves, rebels agains the iaurdin empire, imperians, xalhoteccans,
 
Favored Weapon
All weapons

Saint Umber Rubela
Title(s)
The Servant, The Northern Imperator, The Lost Saint, The Ever-Faithful, The Saint of the Undead

Pantheon(s)
New Gods

Power Level
Lesser Deity

Alignment
Lawful Evil

Symbol
A skull with a cross on the brow

Portfolio
Undeath, truth, loyalty, zealotry, conquest

Domains
War, Death

Worshipers
Undead, necromancers, heretics of the Imperian, barbarians of the Hold, lords of Lacrimosa
 
Favored Weapon
Axes and swords

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Naryan Directory: The Lore Index

So, I'm trying to make these index pages to make it easier for players to find specific content.

We already have the Gods Index and the Player Homebrew Index and you can use those links to find everything about the religion of these setting in the former and custom class & race content in the latter index.

This index is more for the articles related to geography, history, politics, etc.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Faiths of Sublanarya: The Trial of Reynard the Fox

The Twilight Realm of Dawn is a queer place of wonderful, wondrous, and whimsical beauty and grim, dark, and deadly horror. It is called by many names The Land of Fairy, The Nth Kingdom, and Fantasia. Yes, even a world of magic like Narya, the Twilight Realm of Dawn is considered to be even more inherently fantastic. After all, it is the nexus through which all positive energy, an important element of magic that makes up the magical conflux of Narya, travels and is a sometimes disturbingly and always twisted bright reflection of the material world. There are many odd nooks and crannies, as well as crooks and nannies, in this odd plane and, in one corner is a place where a genre of children's stories become manifest and/or manifest from. The genre that involve talking animals in fancy clothes and moral lessons and rhymes. It is a very real country in the fey realm. This country is called The Kingdom of Animalia.

It is in Animalia that the famous Trial of Reynard the Fox.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Monster Mash: A is for Al-Miraj

Unicorns are celestial guardians. They guard sacred forest and offer themselves as mounts to holy champion. They are associated with purity, healing and righteousness.

But they are not the only horned celestial beasts.

In fact, there are many creatures associated with the fey and celestial that all bare the divine horn upon their brow. Perhaps unicorns are the archetype of these creations or perhaps they're just the best known on the material plane, but there are other divine beasts that can be found in the realm. Many of these creatures are so rare they are considered more myth or legend than even a unicorn. These creatures were once more common but have been forced, by hunters seeking their horns, into more secluded territory.

The Al-Miraj is a creature that is often a joke used to scare children from going into dangerous woods or to dissuade superstitious hunters from hunting in woods where they are unwelcome. The Al-Miraj is said to stalk the ancient woods of the world, looking for evil doers, and to hunt them down. A large yellow hare with a long spiral horn for goring its prey and the claws and teeth of a lion for tearing them to shreds is a somewhat ridiculous or terrifying image depending on the storytelling spinning the imagery and the audience. Only a fool would fall for such a story.

But that doesn't mean they're not real.

Predator of Predators. When an Al-Miraj claims a stretch of forest as their territory, usually a sacred or divine forest but, if not available, the first forest that catches their fancy, the first thing they do is seek out the largest predator in the forest and hunt them down.
After hunting down the large predator and slaying them, the Al-Mirahj devours its prey. If they have the time, they prefer to eat their prey from the inside out and particularly savor the heart, liver and other bodily organs of predators over any other animal flesh. There is nothing more unsettling than the sound of a pleased Al-Miraj gorging itself on a bear's corpse. The happy sounds they make have been compared to children's laughter or singing.
Despite their small size, Al-Miraj are apex predators. They are fast, cunning, stealth, fierce and, most importantly, very, very, very deadly. And they might seem a bit greedy. Al-Miraj won't stop with the former apex predator of the wood. If a forest has a disproportionate number of predators, the Al-Mirah will hunt them and thin out their numbers until there are just enough left to balance the ecosystem of the forest.
In fact, this veracity for hunting down and slaying predators is the very reason for their existence.

Sacred but Deadly. The gods have strange ways of bringing balance to nature, when their enemies or unknowing humanoids throw off the balance, and in this case it involves sending a celestial terror to bring about balance in the wood. Al-Miraj are created by nature gods or their druids when their wood becomes overwhelmed with dangerous predators, whether beasts or people, that threaten to wreak havoc on the natural order of their domain. After they finish the job of routing the wood of the threat, they either move onto the next forest that needs their veracity or they claim the territory as their permanent hunting grounds. And yet, they're rare.
This is because, despite their purpose being to dislodge unwanted hunters from the wood, their existence attracts very particular hunters. Their horns are perfect crafting any number of magical weapons, since they're already endowed with magical properties that allow them to slay the hardiest owlbear, and they have a number of alchemical properties. Their coats are also prized for the magic resistance and exotic coloration. They have an inherent weakness built into them: their minds are susceptible to enchantment magic.Therefore, monster hunters merely charm the Al-Miraj and cut away their horn, leaving them to die, and taking their prize with them.
That's why they're so rare.

Enemies of Evil. Despite their ferocious reputation, Al-Miraj are not known to attack the innocent and show little interest in herbivorous creatures. Their preferences to hunt and kill predators are merely their nature. While they may mistake any unmet humanoid as an intruder, they can be reasoned with if they speak quickly about their intentions in the wood. Furthermore, they can easily be convinced to aid a would-be-hero in routing an evil from the wood and, while their solitary predators, they seek out elves and other forest folk when they run up against a threat that they can't handle on their own.
They make for great but short-lived alliances that nobody will ever believe.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Naryan Class Options: The Witch (5e) Current Version

THE WITCH
“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” - The Wizard of Oz (1939)

A squat human hums a song, petting her black cat, and stirs a small cauldron filled with a bubbling blue liquid that will grant her invisibility when she sneaks into the tower of the dread lord to steal back the gold he has been taking from the overtaxed peasants in her village.

A halfling bobs up and down on a flying butter churn as she races her cackling raven through the canyon with a wyvern hurdling after them, probably wanting her eggs back, as the thieves escape her lair.

A purple octopus climbs up the shoulder of her blue skinned tiefling master and watches as he prepares to summon a demonic servant to help them open the large iron door that separates them from the next steps in their quest for power.

In the world of Narya, a witch is a spellcaster that not only taps into the arcane but also draws upon the divine and natural to empower their spells. Whether their mother taught them everything she learned from her mother or they became an apprentice to a local coven one foggy night, witches are naturally drawn to the unnatural and strange. Whether that supernatural attraction is like a moth to the flame or two lovers in harmony is up to the witch.

THE QUICKENING
Every now and then a child is born that finds themselves extremely sensitive to the supernatural. Perhaps they inherited it from their bloodline or they witnessed some weird event or perhaps it is just a result of the chaotic nature of reality, but these children are born and their sensitivity causes them to chafe with society. This sensitivity causes them to see things that others wouldn’t, to ask questions that no good mannered person would ask and to think differently than the other children in their village. They are eccentric, to say the least, and they seek out the unusual instinctually. They are drawn to it.

After some time, either in childhood or youth, they begin having strange dreams. In their dreams, they are accompanied by a friend-- usually a cat, a small dog, a bird, a doll or an octopus-- that all can talk. One morning, they wake up, and, sitting on the bedpost, the friend becomes real. The friend explains that the child has begun the Quickening, that they are the child’s familiar and that the child is a witch.

This is the strange manner that witches not born into a witching family are introduced to their gift and to the world of Witchcraft.

PERSECUTION
Witches are usually found in a society where magic is suppressed. In the world of Narya, there are places like Thule where magic, whether arcane, divine or natural, are discouraged and practitioners are rejected, if not persecuted, by the locals.
This is especially true among women in the more backwards parts of the realm. After all, a woman with power is dangerous in a patriarchy. If women are expected to be subservient and seen but not heard, then a woman who can tap into incredible power is not only a danger to those around her but to the community in the eyes of the local authorities. For this reason, witches are often scapegoated and hunted down.

This persecution caused magical knowledge to become a scarcity in these regions and actually furthers the Craft. After all, if a youth who is sensitive to magic was in a land where magical education is prevalent, they would become a druid, a cleric or a wizard. And so the common folk, the wise women and medicine women, mix the practices of several spellcasting traditions into an art called the Craft and pass it on to the next generation of witches.

 
THE CRAFT
The Craft of Witchery, witchcraft, is what some elitist spell-casters would call "common magic" or even "country magic". The most common witch practices a mix of medicine, fortune telling, and, for a price, putting hexes on people. A witch does specialized jobs from midwifery to exorcism. In many communities, such women have learned the trade from an older witch, even passed down from mother to daughter, and are respected cornerstones of country living. While reclusive, some witches form small groups called Covens. It is generally considered bad luck to gather more or less than three witches at a time: the Elder, is the oldest and is usually childless (called the "Crone" in evil covens), the Mother, has children and may even have a family, and the Maiden, a childless youth. They generally gather at special meetings to discuss local occurrences and collaborate on solutions to problems too big for a single witch.

These "good witches", according to those that call themselves such, help people. This doesn't mean, necessarily, doing what people want. Good isn't nice. Good does what's needed. Sometimes this means witches manipulate people, often relying on their knowledge and cunning over actual magic application, but always for the greater good. A good witch is a welcome member to any community in need. And yet, witches have a bad reputation in places, such as Thule and, perhaps, this is a mix of superstition and misogyny. After all, most spell-casters and those who seek and use power are at risk of being corrupted. But still, the prevalence and infamy of bad witches in folklore is indisputable.
  
There are plenty of reasons for a witch to go bad: they live alone, they are touched by magic, they are eccentric, they are persecuted and they meddle in the affairs of the outer planes. Some witchcraft relies upon drawing upon patrons, like demons or devils, for magic and that takes a toll. Their interests in the community turn from helping to hurting; they give potions with bad effects, they steal away livestock and children for dark purposes and, generally, become crazier and crueler. They basically become hags. And then somebody has to stop them.

Bad witches give their good counterparts such a bad reputations that, generally, good witches don't advertise their talents widely. After all, nobody wants to be burned at the stake.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Character Crunch. Tuathans and Faiths of Sublanarya: Dagda the Stag Prince

The following is an excerpt from a previous article... Witchcraft Part 4: Morgana La Fey the Terrible and Magnificent 

When an animal dies in Sublanarya, they move onto the afterlife just the same as any other sentient life forms, usually finding an immortal resting place in the Heavens. When animals die in the Feywild, they instead become spirits until they can reincarnate. Being touched by the fey changes these animals and, after many generations, a tribe of these animal spirits became sentient and known as the Yenna-goshi.

Yenna-goshi are one of the most mysterious species of shape-changers since they have a non-corporeal spirit form, an animal form, and a humanoid like form. They are strange primal entities that, in their humanoid form, having a mix of nondescript animal traits obscured by a cloak of animal hides with great glowing eyes looking out from under the hood.They usually watch over special places of nature in the Feywild and material plane. They are the spirits often responsible for the creation of Hengeyokai, sentient animals, born from normal animals, with the ability to transform into a human-like form. They are responsible for other yokai such as giant beasts, "animal gods", that serve as paragons of their kind and protectors of nature. There are also responsible for the Tuath De Yenna or Tuathans.

Thousands of years ago, there was a tribe of humans. They were known to be a peaceful and friendly craftsmen with use of bright colors, ornate patterns and unusual materials that create designs that were somehow both natural and unnatural. They were a simple people, living in harmony with the land, and did not seek war. They once had a homeland but were chased out by invaders. They became lost on a foggy morning and found themselves in a strange land, having crossed over into the Feywild, and it seemed there was no escape.

The tribe was lost in a strange and dangerous place, but they soon found friends. They had found themselves in a secluded forest, deep in the Dawn realm, protected by the yenna-goshi. Usually anyone foolish enough to step into or, much worse, damage the lands of the yenna-goshi would be scared off or meet some misfortune. It is said the yenna-goshi were bewitched by the colorful garments and tents of the people, the aroma of their tea and food, and the songs played by the young and old. Rather than scaring off the tribe, the yenna-goshi helped the humans and befriended them, allowing them to make the woods their home.

And, as the humans spent time in the Feywild, they changed as they were touched by the spirit of the animals. They gained the ability to shape-change into animals, they learned fey magic and knowledge, and helped protect the forests of the yenna-goshi. In time, they became known as the Tuatha de Yenna-goshi or "tribe of the animal spirits" or tuathans ("the tribespeople") for short.

Some tuathans eventually discovered a way to return to the material plane and, with their knowledge of fey magic, shape-shifting, and other gifts they had obtained abroad, they became a powerful small empire that stood for a thousand years. And then, mysteriously, the empire collapsed. Today, descendants of the tuathans can be found in the material plane and it is still believed they live hidden away in the forests of the yenna-goshi. They do not advertise their shape-shifting or heritage to avoid the superstitious fear of humans but also other enemies.

Their blood, their very heritage, is sought after by any number of powerful magic users and fey lords that seek to tap into the power of their mysterious race.

Tuathans are a race scattered to the four winds with small families, clans and communities hiding themselves away in the corners of the wild. They try to preserve their heritage but mostly want peace from the "wild hunt". A few tuathans either seek adventure or, by tragedy, are forced to seek out their own path in the world.

They resemble humans with fey-like features, often being mistaken for half-elfs or having elf blood, but have features resembling their unique animal form. From unique eye color and shape, such as having the eyes of an eagle, to hair the color of their fur or feathers in their animal form, such as tawny brown hair that turns white in the winter and back in the spring. Their closeness to nature, or at least their kindred animals, often leads them to druidism or ranging.

Ability Score Increase. Increase two ability scores of your choice each by 1 or one ability score of your choice by 2.
 It is recommended you base the ability score on your Kindred Animal. EX. A bear would have a +2 to Strength and a +1 to Constitution but a Bat would probably have a +2 to Dexterity.
Alignment. While Tuathans were once the ruling class of an ancient kingdom, since their downfall they have returned to their wild heritage. They tend towards neutrality, focusing on the survival and welfare of their kin, but some take their desire for freedom and turn it into an ideal of allowing themselves and others to live free. They tend towards neutral and chaotic alignments.
Size. Your are similarly sized to a human. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Wild Folk. You have proficiency in the Nature skill.
Kindred Speech. You have the ability to comprehend and verbally communicate with beasts similar to your kindred animal as if using the Speak With Animals spell.
The following are the beasts you can choose as your Kindred Animal. If you want to use a different beast, consult with your GM.
Ape, Axe Beak, Baboon, Badger, Bat, Black Bear, Blood Hawk, Boar, Camel, Cat, Constrictor Snake, Crocodile, Deer, Draft Horse, Eagle, Elk, Flying Snake, Frog, Giant Badger, Giant Bat, Giant Frog, Giant Goat, Giant Lizard, Giant Owl, Giant Poisonous Snake, Giant Rat, Giant Weasel, Goat, Hawk, Hyena, Jackal, Lizard, Mastiff, Mule, Owl, Panther, Poisonous Snake, Pony, Pteranodon, Rat, Raven, Riding Horse, War Horse, Weasel, Wolf, Vulture,
You can pick from the following but must be at least Level 4.
Brown Bear, Dire Wolf, Giant Eagle, Giant Hyena, Giant Toad, Giant Vulture, Lion, Tiger
Kindred Animal. You can take a bonus action to magically transform into your specific and unique kindred animal. Pick a creature from the list above. You can use this ability for up to twelve hours. Every time you use this ability to turn into your kindred animal and then turn back into your normal form, it expends at least one hour of your potential time in your kindred animal form. You regain this ability when you take long rests.

You can willingly return to your normal form by using a bonus action to do so.

The creature is limited in the actions it can perform by the nature of its new form, and cannot perform spells. Your intelligence, wisdom, and charisma ability scores remain the same and you may choose to use your hit points from your normal form instead of those of the creature. If your hit points become 0 or less in this form or you are knocked unconscious, you remain in this form.
 
The target’s gear melds into the new form. The target can’t activate, wield, or otherwise benefit from any of its equipment. 

Extra Languages. You may speak, read and write Sylvan and Elven.

The racial god of the Tuathans, Dagda, is similar to Sylvanis. In fact, some legends say that he is the son of Silvanus and a powerful Fey lady. While able to take any animal form, as a god of nature, his kindred animal is the stag and his favored form is that of a great and powerful stag. For this reason, he wears a crown of stag horns. He is said to be a capricious personality; wild, untamed and unpredictable. And yet, incredibly cunning and skilled. His guile allowed him to lead the Tuathans to rule an empire that is still spoken of in legend that stretched across many forested lands. And yet, even quicker than he rose to power, Dagda vanished. This was the beginning of the end for the empire and, shortly after his disappearance, it fell to ruin.

Those who still adhere to Dagda see him as a savior who will return to reunite the Tuathans. Some say he is still out there now, helping his people when he can, and punishing the wicked. He is said to take the forms of a beautiful young man or a bearded giant. He is also said to carry a long oak club that could take life or give it with a single swing, a cauldron that never runs empty of whatever drink or elixir he pleases, and a magical harp that can change the seasons as easily as it can change moods.

And yet, if he is still out there, why has he abandoned his throne?

It remains to be seen, but his people still wait for him.

  DAGDA THE STAG PRINCE
Title(s)
King of the Tuathans, The Mighty and Many-Skilled, The King of the Forests, Cernunnos, The Wild-Eyed Lord

Pantheon(s)
New Gods

Power Level
Lesser Deity

Alignment
Chaotic Good

Symbol
A pair of antlers with a star between them
Portfolio
Druids, the forest, tuathans, rangers, talent

Domains
Nature

Worshipers
Druids, foresters (hunters, trappers, loggers), tuathans, fey, wood elves
Favored Weapon
Clubs, mauls

Holy Day(s)
Festivals and rituals for the seasonal equinoxes