Saturday, April 22, 2017

A House Divided: The Hamutian Religion

First, let me clarify the nomenclature involved in describing Hamutian subjects:

Hamut means "kingdom" in Hamutian, the Hamuts are the two kingdoms,  Hamutia refers to both kingdoms and all territories they control, and the people and all things from Hamutia, collectively, are described as Hamutians. Hamutia is split into two kingdoms: Ptah-Hamut to the west of the Hamutian Sea and Raj-Hamut to the east of the Hamutian Sea. Peoples from Ptah-Hamut are called Ptah-Hamuts and peoples from Raj-Hamut are called Raj-Hamuts. They speak Hamutian and their gods are collectively part of the Hamutian pantheon.

The Hamutian religion is one that focus on creation, preservation, and destruction of everything from the universe to the individual.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Gnomes Just Wanna Have A Good Time: The Creation of Gnomes & Gnoldo the Mushroom King

The gnome's patron god is not an overbearing or grandiose father like Iaur of the elves or Urd of the dwarves. Gnoldo the Mushroom King, or "Father Mushroom" as he is often affectionately called by his children, does not demand they carry out any crusades or live by a strict code. If anything, Gnoldo just wants his children to have fun.

As the story goes, gnomes are from the Twilight Realm of Dawn, where all feyfolk originate from the silliest pixie to the nobles elf. Gnoldo's creation is rarely a topic of discussion among gnomish priests or scholars but most would say that Gnoldo was born from the smile or laughter of the Mother. It is then postulated that he became trapped under the ground during the cataclysm that destroyed the clay peoples and remained their for eons before the sound of a single drop of water splashed upon a pool in the cavern, that the gnomes call the Cavern of Souls, made the sound of tittering laughter and awoke him.

Gnoldo found the pool, a pool of the mother's tears shining like a rainbow, and saw a reflection of himself. Amused, the god began telling himself jokes and, with each punchline, the pool bubbled up. Each bubble was so beautiful and unique that Gnoldo scooped them up and, to his surprise, they were beautiful gemstones beyond compare. He told jokes until he had so many different colored gems he had to use magic to create a bottomless bag of holding to carry them all.

It is said that these gems, called "Soul Gems", contain the unborn souls of every gnome, born of the Mother's tears and the gnome-father's jokes, and that every newly born gnome is a gift from Gnoldo himself.

Gnoldo was so proud of his gems that he told everyone in the Dawn realm about his treasure and showed them off in the Fey courts. This way a mistake. Several powerful feylords and beings tried to steal the bag away. Eventually, one of Gnoldo's card game partners, a clever kobold named Zomokar Wyrm-Tongue managed to steal away the bag while Gnoldo nodded off during a game of Turnips.

Zomokar stole the gems and took themto his home under Wyrm Hill. There he planted the gems and gnomes grew like mushrooms in the soil. He dug them up and had them slave away in his mines. Zomokar became rich and powerful beyond his wildest dreams. His mines were so impressive that even the gods grew envious. He ignored their requests until Tiamat, the dragon queen herself, asked for a tour of the mines.

Zomokar and his kobolds worked the gnomes into overtime to prepare for the visit, sweeping every bit of dirt from every hall and shining every gemstone until the halls of Wyrm Hill were a divine sight to behold, and prepared a great feast. Tiamat arrived in the form a of a beautiful woman with dark hair wearing a dress of red, blue, black, green and white scales.

The kobold was quick to try and impress the goddess. He gave her a grand tour and many gifts, including the bag of soul gems. She seemed impressed. At the feast, she requested he invited every kobold and gnome into the great hall that the kobold had set up by digging out a large cavern in the middle of the mines. With the room filled with gnomes and kobolds, Tiamat asked to stand and speak a few words.

Tiamat began telling jokes, mocking Zomokar, much to his frustration and confusion. As she did so, the gnomes and kobolds began laughing. The laughter was so great that is shook the very walls of the dining hall. The laughter was so great that it echoed through all the halls of the mine and shook the supports of every tunnel. The laughter was so great that the whole mine came crashing down.

After all, it wasn't Tiamat at all. It was Gnoldo in disguise. Just as the hall fell in around them, Gnoldo revealed himself and Zomokar cursed him. The cave in killed all the kobolds of Wyrm Hall, even Zomokar who's hatred of Gnoldo ascended him to godhood but trapped him in his collapsed mine (leading to the rivalry between kobolds and gnomes to this day), and, with Gnoldo's mercy, the gnomes were returned to gem form. Gnoldo dug each of them out of the collapse hill, scooping them into his bag, and took the bag with him to the material plane to give them a second chance.


The gnomes split into two groups: the gnomes that had been reverted to gems after being slaves became the rock gnomes and those that had remained in the bag became forest gnomes.


Rock gnomes live in burrow settlements built in hillsides. They are known to be more social among gnomes, particularly setting up profitable partnerships with dwarves, and are known for being friendly, inquisitive, and energetic. Rock gnomes embody the inventive nature of Gnoldo, making toys and machines both for their own amusement and profit, and are some of the most clever peoples in the world of Narya. They are usually difficult to differentiate between forest gnomes but rock gnomes are known to have more natural hair and eye colors and are built taller and more solidly than their forest counterparts. They are much more likely to come to conflict with neighboring enemies, especially kobolds, and have a warrior culture.


Forest gnomes live in secluded villages built in forests. They are known for being shyer than rock gnomes and often go so far as to protect the locations of their homes with powerful magic. Indeed, the forest gnomes are just as curious and friendly as rock gnomes, but are usually more cautious than their rock kin. They seek to maintain peace and tranquility, avoiding conflict when they can, and ally themselves with unusual creatures to maintain their peace. Forest gnomes are extremely playful, making games out of their farming and crafting work, and are known for being childlike. They also stand out due to their brightly colored hair, from bubblegum pink to neon green, and matching bright clothing. They avoid conflict by using illusion magic and clever tricks.

There are also Deep Gnomes who, in Sublanarya, are remnants of gnomes who escaped giant slavery by going deeper into the Underdark

Deep gnomes are hardy, secretive, and serious. They are actually at odds with the stereotpical gnome personality. It is believe that their optimism and cheerful demeanor was beat and bred out of them by the giants. They are mostly unheard of but some have made contact with dwarves and gnomes in recent years briefly. While shrewd, sullen and even suspicious, they seemed well-meaning in these meetings, trading well-crafted goods and information about local threats in these exchanges, before disappearing back to their secret cities. They have ashen grey skin and dark eyes. Males are remarkably lacking in hair or beard, while their females wear their white, grey or black hair short to their heads. Svirneblin are used to fighting the many horrors and foes of the Underdark.

Gnomes are often called the "forgotten folk" because of their emphasis to avoid meddling in or being meddle with by other creatures affairs.

If there is a "doctrine" of gnome religion it is pretty simple: have fun.

Gnome priests emphasize that, while life can often be difficult and challenging at time, a good attitude will help you weather any troubles. A good sense of humor and sharp wit will help you overcome obstacles. Friends and family are greater treasures than any gemstone.

Pessimism and negativity should be rejected and over-seriousness and self-importance should be avoided. It is important to promote optimism and positivity.

You should work to keep everyone in good spirits. Everyone in the community should work together to make sure that everybody is happy and healthy. The greater good of the community should always be considered.

Do not fear change, embrace it. Do what works.

If there is any criticism against gnome ideology, particularly by their dwarven friends, it is that gnomes often seem to just ignore their problems rather than confront them directly and that they don't take anything seriously. Gnomes always prefer compromise over conflict. This can often lead to gnomes allowing something to get out of hand because they believe that the problem to just go away.

Despite the criticism, it is clear that have successfully avoided the wars and catastrophes that have devastated Sublanarya in recent history.

An important side aspect of gnome priests, often jokingly called "mushroom farmers", is the importance of the "magic mushroom" to gnome culture. "Non-magic" mushrooms are grown as food by gnomes living in cavern or forest. The mushroom is considered a gift from Gnoldo.

Magic mushrooms, on the other hand, caused those who eat them to hallucinate. Gnome priests believe it is possible to see beyond the material plane and into the ethereal and divine by proper use of these mushrooms. In fact, those that manage to master these "trips" are said to be visited by Gnoldo himself.

Magic mushrooms are grown recreationally and for special religious holidays. In fact, it is considered an important rite of passage for a young gnome to take magic mushrooms on his name day. Usually, they are given as a gift by the gnome priests and the experience is supposed to give the young gnome their first taste of responsibility. That said, magic mushroom abuse is a problem in some gnome communities. Gnome priests are supposed to regulate and oversee the use of the mushrooms to prevent abuse but it still happens.

Furthermore, as the magic mushrooms have made it out of gnomish communities they have become highly prized commodities among intellectuals, spellcasters and nobility wishing to "meet the mushroom king". Magic mushrooms are actually illegal unless by gnomes in special gnome ceremonies in lands controlled by the Iaurdin Empire. That has done little to slow the spread of this popular drug.
It is said there are still gnomes in the fey realm, diminutive as pixies, that live amongst Gnoldo's mushroom fairies. If there are, they've learned to hide over the millennia from the dawn fey and would likely be even harder for those native to the material plane to find their ilk. Especially if they are being guarded by the mushroom fairies.

Mushroom fairies are said to grow wherever Gnoldo goes. They are usually peaceful and easy-going creatures, prone to a little mischief when they are small, but otherwise gentle. That is until someone or something threatens their young or they are riled to protect their homes. Mushroom fairies can grow to incredible sizes and know powerful fey magic that make them a serious threat to any forest or caverns under their protection.

Gnomes consider them to be sacred creatures, some gnomes priests even inviting them into their villages for special festivals, but most marking their territory as sacred places off limits.

As for Father Mushroom, he is said to travel the planes playing pranks, looking after gnomes and growing new mushroom forests. Plus he still has to contend with enemies like Zomokar and Dezmar the White Mole.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Faiths of Sublanarya: Aequitas the Invisible Hand

Aequitas is the daughter of the prince and the stolen bride responsible for the War of the Golden Apple. The apple that Erys had created was imbued with divine powers that could tempt jealous gods to compete for the attention of a mere mortal and so, when consumed by the pregnant bride, she gave birth to a girl who was as radiant as gold. Her beauty rivaled that of any god or goddess and so it was that the gods take turns wooing the unimpressed goddess, Aequitas.
The result of a war that devastated the mortal realm, as the gods wooed Aequitas they gave her so many treasures that she became the very goddess of wealth itself, and her personal collection is a testament to her wealth. It is said that she lived in a heavenly realm with seas of gold. Despite the strife that greed causes, Aequitas is a goddess that promotes peace. While merchants compete with each other, those who pray to Aequitas believe the market is best when merchants follow rules of conduct and ethics, when contracts are upheld, and when the trade is fair. 
So valued is the goddess's peaceful presence that many banks have statues in her honor, often depicted holding a balanced scale with coins on one side and a heart on the other, and they also print currency with her visage.

There is also a famous story in which Aequitas taught a wealthy king a very important lesson about greed and priorities.

King Midas of Izbarda was the wealthiest king in all of the mythical sea of Geleda. And yet, no amount of wealth seemed enough for the god and his greed pushed him to overtax the people, force his armies to fight profitable wars, and to turn the markets in the favor of the crown. Greed had turned the kind-heart of a king into that of a tyrant.

One day, a satyr with golden horns, hooves and fleece was found in the garden of Midas. The satyr had become drunk and passed out from his festivities. The guards of the king went deal with the intruder but, upon recognizing the satyr as a servant of the trade goddess, the king commanded them to take care of the satyr. The satyr was given a place to sleep and given good food & drink upon waking the following morning. Aequitas came to collect her companion and, when she did, she asked Midas to name his reward.

Midas had seen the satyr turn the roses he had slept upon into gold and asked for that power. Aequitas warned him that the power should only be used lightly before giving him the golden touch.

The king ignored her warning.

King Midas turned his entire palace estate to gold: every brick and tile, every door and mirror, every piece of furniture and decor, every tree and bush, every bit of every into glorious and vibrant gold, all the while he grinned like a maniac with insatiable avarice in his heart. It seemed his greed was boundless as he turned everything to gold. He forgot and ignored the goddess's warning.

As the king sat before his dinner feast, all carried out golden dishes and accompanied by golden goblets and pitches of wine on a golden table cloth covering a table of gold, he rested and basked in the radiance of his work. His daughter, upset that her roses had lost their scent and became hard to the touch, came to he father to plead with him to obey the goddess's warning and use his gift more carefully. As he reached out to comfort her, he accidentally embraced her with the golden touch and, to his horror, she turned to gold.

He cursed the gods and begged for help from his servants. To his anguish, he no longer could control his golden touch. When the servants saw that their king had turned his own daughter into gold, they abandoned him. He was left in his palace, surrounded by his wealth, and soon he began to starve for, though the kitchens were plentifully stuffed, every piece of food he pressed to his lips became gold too. He had chose to disobey the goddess's warning.

And so the king would've died, wasting away in a tomb of gold surrounded by useless trinkets and treasures, and haunted by the visage of his own daughter. His heart was heavy and he wished to take his own life. And, as he suffered for his greed, he may have gone mad with anguish but his wails and curses and begging rants aimed at Aequitas were answered.

The goddess returned and asked the king what he wanted now. The king begged to have the goddess's gift taken back. She explained that taking away the golden touch was easy enough but it would not undo his handiwork. He begged that he would trade away his riches, his crown and even his life to just see his daughter returned to her living form. This seemed to please Aequitas.

She told the king to take everything from the palace, every piece of gold, every golden statue, every golden bench and brazier, and every golden brick and tile, down to the sea and toss them into it at once. The king obeyed. Midas threw all of his riches into the sea, every coin and every treasure, until the place his palace had stood was but dirt and rock. Lastly, he was told to take his daughter to the sea and to set her in the shallows. The king had grown weary but he dragged his daughter's golden form to the sea and collapsed just short of the tide. He feared he had not been strong enough, that his greed had done him in, and that he would die having failed his daughter. But the gods took pity upon him and fair Delphina washed a wave over him and his golden daughter.

His daughter pulled her father's head up into her bosom, crying and laughing, and the king realized that no treasure in the world was worth the simple pleasures of life.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Free Markets & Free Peoples of Zafaria: Jalatia and Nadjabad

The infernal heat keeps the people asleep all day
and so, as night falls on Ersod,
the city and tourists come out to work and play.

In the City of Endless Nights, as the moon rises over the chilled sands, the glow of the gaslamps and magical braziers turn the cityscape a hue of violet as god-fearing merchants open their food carts to hung-over customers and wayward priests, from across the sea and desert, seek out carnal delights in the brothels-- taking part in act that would curl the beards of any king in Thule. Across the courtyard, a fire-breathing tiefling juggler collects coins from a crowd of children while his partner picks the pockets of their wealthy parents. And, as a gypsy tells the fortune of a young noble couple traveling on their honeymoon, a curious djinn watches and considers how he will benefit from the misfortune he is envisioning for them.

By the time the sun rises in the east, the city will fall all but silent again, until the day's heat wanes.

That is a Zafarian city today. But to understand the present, we must look to the past...

The two large southern continents of Sublanarya are referred to as Hamutia because, for thousands of years, both continents were under the hold of the Hamutian Empire. The Hamutian Empire was a polytheistic monarchal empire in which two kings, two siblings (male or female), ruled on either side of the Hamutian Sea. This empire was built on military conquest, control of valuable resources like drinking water and arable land, and the institution of slavery. It was a powerhouse that survived the Wyrd Wars and continued to dominate the region afterwords. But, as time came to pass, so did the union between Western and Eastern Hamutia.

A civil war broke out between two sibling kings; the western king Ptah-hotep and her brother Jahangari II. Even the Hamutian Pantheon itself split. To the west of the Hamutian Sea, the land became known as Ptah-Hamut, ruled by the all-mighty Pharoah, and to the east lies Raj-Hamut, ruled by the more democratic Rajah and his council of princes. As the war waged on, the slaves of the Hamutian Empire took advantage of the chaos to revolt.

The slaves escaped to the sea and colonized coasts to the north-west of Ptah-Hamut. They had no singular traditions or identity, having been bred from generations of defeated tribe speople and criminals from throughout Hamutia, and so they forged a new cultural identity. They called themselves the Zafarians or "The Unbending." They lived of the inner sea, which came to take their name, and became a prominent nation of merchants. They named their new home on the coast Nadjabad or "the Place of Hope".

And they weathered many small wars against Ptah-Hamut, especially as that lands became entrenched in an even more despicable state.

During the Second Dar Age, a snake cult took control of the pharoah's court and put their god-king, Apep, above all others on Narya. Eventually, the cruelty of the snake cult caused a second slave rebellion. They overthrew the insane cult and reinstalled the pharoah to his throne. As a reward for their nobility, they were offered their freedom. But many of the freed slaves did not wish to continue to be part of a system that continued to perpetuate slavery and instead left for Zafaria. This second wave, bringing their engineering and combat skills, from being forced to build complex architecture and fill out the armies of the snake cult, built walled towns and forts in the mountains of Jalatia on the south-western peninsula of modern day Albyon.

They joined the nation of Zafaria and together the free peoples of Jalatia and Nadjabad have become a small but powerful nation by controlling the Great Western Isthmus and the Zafarian Sea.

Today, the Nadjabadi and Jalatians are one of the most progressive cultures in all of Sublanarya.

Freedom is the promise of Zafaria. A collaboration of former slaves who rebelled against their masters, Zafaria, made up of the mountainous peninsula of Jalatia and the desert coast-line of Nadjabad, is a place where all peoples are free and equal. People are free to live their lives, as they see fit, without the oppression of government or gods, and every man, woman, and child can seize the opportunities that come with this freedom. Few nations welcome outsiders so willingly. Especially the beaten, the tired, the poor, the homeless, and those tossed aside by neighboring nations are welcome to the shores of Zafaria. These people bring their traditions and their values and add them to beautiful hodge-podge of cultures and creeds. Between the white-squared clay buildings, they form a mosaic of broken tiles from a thousand worlds in a thousand colors. And yet...

In Zafaria, coin is king.

While this is a land of opportunity for all, it is not equal opportunity. If anything, those who come to Zafaria are prey for the true sharks that haunt the waters. Pirates, thieves, and crooked merchants rule Zafaria and take advantage of the constant influx of new victims, new targets, and new labor. While freedom is free in Zafaria, life is cheap. Resources are not as abundant as in more verdant regions of Sublanarya and locales are more apt to knowing the ins and outs of taking advantage of opportunities in the markets. Poverty is common, as common as the starvation and disease that are common in the clums of every village and city in Zafaria, and thus the cycle of crime is perpetuated. The only law is made-up of local militia organized by the wealthy merchant families and far too often are they more interested in catching thieves than preventing the kind of cruelty that turns desperate men cruel. That is the price of freedom in Zafaria. Every man for himself. Despite perpetrating slavery being illegal under penalty of death throughout the Zafarian Sea, ships with new slaves find their way to Hamutia every day.

As any Dhole will tell you, "it is a dog eat dog world".


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Faiths of Sublanarya: Frigo the Enigma


Frigo the Enigma is one of the more obscure cults of Sublanarya. They are a god shrouded in mystery and ambiguity but there are enough facts to give some clues to scholars of their origins and place in the cosmos. Frigo's story can be broken up into three acts: birth, death, and ascension.

Frigo was born as the son of Hecate but the mysterious god's father is a mystery himself but usually attributed to a scandalous meeting with Grimnir Blue-Cloak himself. The amiable rivalry between these two gods is well known. While Hecate schemes to unthrone Grimnir as the patriarch of the gods, their rivalry has bred admiration. Adherents to both gods would probably deny this relationship but most who follow Frigo agree that this union is the most probable for the outcome.

Regardless, Frigo was raised by his mother as a girl. But this is not why Frigo is called "The Androdgyne".

It is said that Frigo used the magic gifted upon him by his mother to travel freely throughout the planes under her careful watch. On one fateful afternoon, Frigo in a sacred place forbidden to male eyes: the Baths of Pallas.

The Baths of Pallas were constructed for use by the goddesses and their priestesses after the adherents of Soffia and Fiona demanded a tribute from defeated forces that had insulted the goddesses with their brutalization of women. The defeated kings built a massive temple complex atop a natural spring. It is said the spring water had many curative properties and that the goddesses themselves visited them from time to time. Lastly, the Baths of Pallas were forbidden to the eyes of mortal or immortal men.

And so it was that poor Frigo, a more feminine and beautified male there may have never been, found himself interrupting a bath between goddesses. The gaze of male eyes were detected by the goddesses and he was struck dead for the blasphemy. When the goddesses discovered that the boy was the son of Hecate, they realized there would be consequences and acted quickly. They lay his body in the healing waters of the Baths of Pallas and, miraculously, the powers of the water resurrected Frigo. Except the curative powers of the water had transmogrified the young god.

Frigo was no longer a boy but nor was Frigo a girl. Frigo had become both and neither. Frigo had been transformed into "the Androgyne God". Straddling the boundary between the worlds feminine and masculine, Frigo represents the unknown and the intangible. Frigo's worshipers are scholars seeking to unravel the mysteries of the universe and magic users seeking to push the limits of their magic.

Furthermore, Frigo's complexity makes them the god of identity and peoples with self-identity outside of the normal paradigm seek guidance from the god of freaks and outcasts in how to accept themselves and how to seek acceptance from others.

FRIGO

Title(s)
The Enigma, The Mystery, The Secret Keeper, The Androgyne, The Punished Soul

Pantheon(s)
Naryan

Power Level
Lesser Deity

Alignment
Neutral
Symbol
A crucified humanoid

Realm
Astral Plane

Portfolio
Magic, Identity, Mystery, Knowledge, Solitude

Suggested Domains
Arcana, Knowledge

Worshipers
Magic users, scholars, philosophers, LGBT, loners

Favored Weapon
Staves

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Character Crunch: Treefolk

Treeants are awakened trees that dwell in ancient forests. They grow to the size of great trees and are some of the mightiest champions of the natural world. Druidic, fey, divine forces or nature itself animates trees that have the spark of potential to become a treeant. After much meditation, they form a human-like face and limbs. Treeents protect the wild from woodcutters, hunters and others who would harm the inhabitants of its home

Queen Tytanya felt that her gardens were remiss; unlike the ancestral forests of the old iaurdin or in the sacred groves still tended by the sylvanar, the gardens nurtured and cultivated in urban environments by the great elves lacked the protection of treeant guardians. She was envious for the watchful eyes, the deep thrumming voices, and the heavy footsteps of treeants that she remembered from her time with the sylvanar. But massive treeants do not fit into the confines of urban development. And so, as with any problem faced by the Queen, she turned to researching arcane means to recreate the same results from the natural realm on a smaller scale. Despite some reservations from the garden druids of Grand Saeffura, the Queen gets what the Queen wants.

Under her guidance, the druids cultivated saplings from fallen treeants that, with magical assistance, formed a new, smaller and more tame type of treeant; the treefolk.

With careful cultivation, they were able to limit the size of these treefolk to restrict them to the height and size of most humanoids. They are plenty tall, most standing between 6.5 and 9 feet tall at full size, that still make them a sight in the gardens of the elven elite in the cities of Saesun. Unlike treeants that have many seasons to learn and draw upon nature for their knowledge, treefolk are raised by a mix of gardeners, druids, and other treefolk. They are raised to be top notch gardeners and serve as a trophy in any prized garden. Most treefolk are gifts from the royal gardens, on behalf of the Queen herself, to noble households.

Some imperial citizens are suspicious that they serve the Queen herself, as do most of her "creations", but the simple and easy-going nature of treefolk, caring for their gardens, has put most of these suspicions to ease.

Treefolk are seen as harmless, since they've been successfully domesticated, by most iaurdin but that doesn't mean that treefolk don't go wild.

They are raised, more or less, so that their life revolves around the garden they are given. But what happens if the garden is destroyed or displaced? What if they go berserk when some hooligan destroys their favorite shrub or tree? What happens if the treefolk become more interested in more and more gardens outside of their own and go seeking new horizons? What if they feel like returning to nature? What if they want to break the chains of bondage? What if they fall in love with a person? What if they want to protect an owner? What if they want to fight for something?

By perverting the nature of treeants, they iaurdin think they took something they understood and created something they could control. But, in reality, by changing the nature of the thing they understood, they have lost understanding of it.


Treefolk are no longer as beholden to nature as their treeant ancestors. They are something completely new. Would you like to explore the nature of your relationship with nature? Then try to play a treefolk.

What will win? Nature or nurture?

Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2 and your Wisdom increases by 1.
Age. Treefolk reach adulthood within ten years and can live for hundreds of years.
Alignment. Most treefolk are easy-going and are usually content as long as they can protect and care for their gardens. Their nurturing nature mixed with the adherence to order cultivated by the iaurdin means that most treefolk are lawful good. As treefolk adventurers, they often go against the grain by abandoning the obedient existence forced upon them by the elves.
Size. Treefolk are dwarf-sized treeants and, rather than being large or huge, they are considered Medium. They stand between six-and-a-half and nine feet tall.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Natural Armor. You have tough bark as skin. When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 16. You can use your natural armor to determine your AC if the armor you wear would leave you with a lower AC. A shield's benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armor.
Photosynthesis. Despite requiring water, you don't require normal food. Instead, you feed off of minerals, that you can draw from the air or soil and sunlight, which you take in through your leaves, eyes and mouth.
Tree-ish. Treefolk don’t need to sleep. Instead, they meditate deeply, remaining semiconscious, for 4 hours a day.While meditating, you can dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep.
False Appearance. While not wearing armor or clothing, if a treefolk remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a normal tree.
Long-Branches. Increase your reach by 5 feet.
Strong-Branches.  You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.

Song of the Forest.  You can cast the Plant Growth and Speak with Plants spells once with this trait. You regain the ability to use this feature when you take a short or long rest.
Dry-Wood. You are vulnerable to fire damage.
Languages. Treefolk are very quick learners of nature languages and have been taught elven by their cultivators. You can speak, read, write and understand Common, Druidic, Elven and Sylvan.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Pillars of Durn: The Dwarven Religion

We have talked about the gods of the Naryan Pantheon and we have talked about the Imperian religion of the Nameless God, but we haven't really talked about another subject much: racial religions. In Dungeons and Dragons, and in Narya, most races believe in ancestral god, a precursor of their race, who has guided them throughout history. In the case of the elves, Iaur and his family serve that role. And, in the case of the dwarves, their ancestral deities are Urd the Forge Father and his son Durn.

In the dwarven creation story, after the clay peoples were washed away by the Mother's tears and the primordials were overthrown by the titans, her sons awoke to fulfill their own destinies. They believe that her sons had assisted in the creation of Narya and the difficulties of creation caused them to fall into a deep slumber that lasted for eons. The dwarves believe her sons were Iaur, who would create the elves, Gnoldo, who would create the gnomes, and so on. Some more recent iterations of the dwarven tellings of this myth include other gods like the Nameless Gods. The dwarves believe that most important among her sons was Urd the Forge Father.

Urd was responsible for building many of the geological wonders of the world from the mountains to the canyons of the world. It is said that Urd planted the dwarves in the roots of these mountains until they were ready to awaken and be born unto the world. The first dwarves were giants forged directly from the rock that lived during the Primordial Age. It is said that they cut pathways through the earth that would become the foundations for the Underdark.

With each new generation of dwarf, their bodies softened and grew smaller. By the time they broke through the surface of the world and entered the twilight of the Titanic Age, the dwarves far more resembled dwarves as we imagine them today.


It said that Urd planted the dwarves in the roots of Narya's mountains until they were ready to awaken. The period of dwarven history covering the mythic times of the Titanic Ages and the Wyrd Wars were considered the Golden Age of Dwarfkind by many; the dwarves held unmatched wealth and power, building incredible wonders of architecture and engineering, and dwarves conquered the greatest mountains of Narya. They overcame many great enemies such as cults of Lolgar the Hungry and invasions from Axeron the Pain Lord. It wad during this time that the golden city of Bryngalla was built and it was a wonder to behold.

But, as with all things, this age would come to pass.

The wealth of the Sublanaryan dwarves, combined with assistance from their gnomish and elven allies, attracted invaders from Mimia. These invaders were giants who came on great barges from the north. They sacked the city of Bryngalla, demolishing all resistance in their path and left dwarven history in ruins. The surviving dwarves, along with their elven and gnomish allies, were enslaved by the giants and held in bondage for generations. Dwarves were forced to work themselves to death in the mines, forges, and building projects of their cruel giant overlords. The giants even twisted the dwarves and created the race known as the duergar. The spirit of the dwarven people was broken and it would take a great leader to reforge their peoples.

The dwarven people have two great heroes that they recognize for their liberation: the Blacksmith's Daughter has already been discussed here but today we're talking about Durn.

Durn was an orphaned dwarf raised by the smithing slaves, forced to make armor and weapons for the dwarves, and it was there that his story would have began and ended. He had always been filled with a great hatred for the giant masters but, like other dwarves, had been beaten into submission. Obedience or death. Those were the options under giant enslavement.

But something happened one night as his ears rang from a long day of the striking of hammer on anvil. It was as if he could hear a voice whispering to him, singing a song old and new, and telling him something important that he must do. It was the voice of Urd. The religion of his people had been beaten out of the dwarves, their holy writing smashed into rubble, and he had never heard the name Urd but he knew that this voice was that of the holy father of all dwarves. The voice told him to leave his cot and to help an elven girl.

When Durn left his cot, he soon discovered an elven girl, the daughter of a blacksmith, had been caught trying to escape and that the giant who had caught her was discussing how best to punish her-- whether to cut off a leg or to throw her to the flaming hounds. For the first time in Durn's life, the fire in his belly that had been boiling since the first beating he had ever experience erupted from within him and in his righteous fury he found the courage and strength to overcome any fear put in him.

With a single swing, Durn struck down the giant with his blacksmith's hammer and told the elven girl to flee as more giants arrived. As the blacksmith's daughter escaped, he killed several of the giants before they overwhelmed him and subdued him. But, rather than take his life for killing his giant masters, they instead put him in the fighting pits. It was there that the giants would forge their own downfall.

They didn't expect the dwarf to last long but he quickly became a champion of the arena. No matter what they threw at the dwarf, miraculously, he somehow managed to survive and come out on top the victor. And with each victory, his resolve grew. He wasn't fighting to survive. He was fighting for the dwarven people. He knew his destiny.

He was no ordinary dwarf. Durn was both the son and vessel of Urd. His purpose was to liberate the dwarven people and forge for them a new future.

And so, when rumors came that the blacksmith's daughter was returning with an army of bjergfolk, Durn led a rebellion from within the golden city. The giants were unable to contend with invading force from without and a disruptive force from within. The combined forces of Durn and the blacksmith's daughter, Tytanya herself, were victorious in overthrowing the giants and casting them out of Bryngalla and the other dwarven cities.

Durn could have become the king of Bryngalla. He had no claim but the loyalty and admiration of his followers made him a candidate. And yet, he declined the offer and instead went on a journey to help rebuild not just one but all of the dwarven cities. His wisdom was invaluable and he became a respected figure among the kings and queens of dwarfkind.

But his greatest achievement was to reform the dwarven faith.

Durn proved himself the scion of Urd, performing miracles and taking a position as the head of a new dwarven religion forged from the pieces of dwarf history, and as part of establishing a new philosophy for dwarves to follow, he laid out what he called The Four Arches or, as they're more commonly called, The Pillars of Durn.

 Most good-aligned religions are focused on teaching basic morals and preparing for the afterlife: that is to say that they are focused on people performing good deeds in exchange for rewards in the afterlife. It is important to understand that while dwarves believe in the afterlife, they're not terribly concerned with it. A dwarf's chief concerns are on the material plane.

In Durn's words, "a good dwarf should not be concerned about whether or not he will supp in the Hall of Urd, but should instead be concerned as to whether his children and his children's childrn will speak his name before the supp in their own halls." It doesn't matter what happens to a dwarf after they leave the world. Instead, it matters what world they leave behind. The greatest reward for a dwarf isn't found in the afterlife, it is found in the knowledge that he has left behind a legacy.

Furthermore, dwarves consider basic morality to be self-evident and not even worthy of discussion in their holy texts. Dwarves assume that all peoples should be able to teach their children that theft and murder are bad.

And so, with that in mind, the dwarf religion focus on how best a dwarf can forge their legacy. In Durn's experience, all dwarves must find a balance between four conflicting pairs of ideals in order to preserve the past, prosper in the present and prepare for the future. The conflicting pairs reflect dwarf values and perspective.

I & II. Family VS. Community

The first pillars of Durn are family and community.

A dwarf's family should be considered the most important thing in the world and yet, a dwarf is also beholden to the community as it represents a union between a number of families and not just a single dwarf's own kin. A dwarf must strive to provide and protect his family while also serving and participating in his community. Durn warns dwarves to put their family first but to always consider the community both the family's foundation and their family to part of the community's foundation. It is important to find a balance between these two forces.

For example, it is wise to assist your family in making a living by giving them valuable positions in your business but this should not be at the expense of the community. Blind nepotism leads to corruption and incompetence. It is important to ensure that you do not put a son prone to greed in charge of the city bank or a lazy son in the position of a city guard. These sorts of failures weaken the community and a weakened community cannot protect or provide a good environment for future generations of your family.

III & IV. Tradition VS. Progress
The next pillars are tradition and progress.

Tradition is important to dwarf society: it is important to learn from the past and respect the ways of your predecessors. Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to fall to the same follies of their ancestors and, prematurely, become history. Traditions have been passed down for the benefits of all. If it isn't broken, don't fix it. Still, with that in mind, it is also important to examine your traditions carefully and to question their purpose.

It is important to give new ideas a chance as they may provide new and/or improved solutions to problems facing your community. Furthermore, progress opens up new avenues for prosperity and can provide a foundation for the future. Nothing is more foolish than obstructing the future for the sake of traditions that hold no value.

For instance, superstitions have been a nuisance to our peoples. While your ancestors may have had a reason to forbid some activity or behavior, it is possible that the reason is no longer valid. Your people could starve because you refuse to eat some meat or vegetable because your ancestors forbid its consumption. In the past, that food may have been forbidden due to it being tainted by some disease but that disease may have long died out.

Do not allow the past to weight down on the future like a ball and chain but do not allow the past to be forgotten. Value the experience of your elders and ancestors.

V & VI. Prosperity VS. Work
This is perhaps the hardest struggle of dwarfkind.

All dwarves should seek prosperity. The material world exists so that we can experience it. A dwarf should seek to create wealth and prosperity for himself and his descendants. The pleasures of the material world and financial security are the rewards that all dwarves should seek to reap. Every dwarf is entitled to the sweat of his own pits. And that is the key:

Every dwarf deserves to profit from their own labor. They should not fall to greed and excess. There is no shame in wealth but there is terrible shame in becoming wealthy at the expense of your fellow dwarves.

Furthermore, wealth for the sake of wealth is a terrible crime. Instead of building material wealth, instead seek to invest that wealth into building materials to build your legacy. Those who find wealth should seek to reinvest the wealth into their community. A healthy community will create wealth for generations.

Remember King Ragar Widebelt and the flooding of the Widebelt Goldmine. King Ragar and his kin could have escape the flooding mine but instead tried to fill their boats with gold. Their boats sank and they were killed by their own avarice.

Greed is the greatest evil of dwarfkind. Know it and oppose it.

VII & VIII. Honor VS. Common Sense

The last pillars concern passion and logic.

Good dwarves are honorable. They keep their oaths, they obey their lords, and they do not show cowardice or cruelty. These are all good values and yet, more often than not, the nobility of a good dwarf has been their downfall. It important to maintain your reputation and standing among dwarfkind but do not foolishly throw your life or, worse yet, the valued lives of others to the wayside for the sake of your honor.

 It is often wisest to abandon your pride for the sake of survival. Sometimes, you must be willing to throw down your life for a cause but not all battles are worth fighting. Do not throw away your life for nothing. Live to fight another day.

Too many warriors, including Durn himself, let their anger and pride get the better of them. Furthemore, the tragedy of dwarfkind is vanity and pride. Too often do dwarves dig where they should not, build what they should not, and challenge those they should not for the sake of their own stubborn pride. Do not be the reason behind the next fall of dwarven society.

Despite these lessons, dwarves still struggle with these conflicts. Arguably, it was dwarf pride that led to the second and final downfall of Bryngalla when the beastmen's horde sacked their cities and inarguably it was dwarf greed that led to them betraying the elves in the Saesun civil wars and, ultimately, led to the elves allowing the dragons to cast them out of the home that the elves had so generously provided them.

As dwarfkind struggles to rebuild, will they learn from their mistakes?


URD THE FORGE FATHER AND
DURN, SON OF URD

Title(s)  
The Father and the Son of Dwarfkind, The True Kings, The Hammer and Anvil, The Mine Master, The Underkings

Pantheon(s)
 Dwarf

Power Level
Greater Deity

Alignment
Lawful Good

Symbol
A hammer and anvil

Realm
Urd Hall

Portfolio
The forge, engineering, mining, family, community

Domains
Forge, Protection, War, Life

Worshipers

Dwarves, smiths, miners, engineers, warriors

Favored Weapon
Hammers

LOLGAR THE HUNGRY FLAME

Title(s)  
The Ceaseless Burning, The Secret Flame, The Sphere of Chaos

Pantheon(s)
 Dwarf

Power Level
Lesser Deity

Alignment
Chaotic Evil

Symbol
A spherical face spewing flame

Realm
Abyss

Portfolio
Volcanoes, fire, sacrifice, destruction,

Domains
Light

Worshipers

Evil dwarves and azer, fire newts,

Favored Weapon
Pick



AXERON THE PAIN LORD

Title(s)  
Master of the Chain, The Gear Master, The Grand Torturer and Executioner, The Firebrand,

Pantheon(s)
Dwarf and Naryan

Power Level
Greater Deity

Alignment
Lawful Evil

Symbol
Flaming gears and chains

Realm
Nine Hells

Portfolio
Torture, execution, machines, war, domination

Domains
War, Light, Death

Worshipers

Evil dwarves and azir, demons, tyrants, executioners, torturers,

Favored Weapon
Trident


I hope you guys enjoyed this week's article and if you have any feedback or questions, hit me up!