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Archive for July, 2010

Since we have a new player in the group, and I am back on track with my weekly posts on the Deities of Valt, I thought I would go ahead and detail the god of Phil’s character, Iema.

 

Pharis (FAIR-us)

The Traveler, Freakfather, the Great Gypsy, the Entertainer

CN Demigod

 

Pantheon: General

Portfolio: Carnivals, travelling shows, gypsies, the physically deformed

Domain: The Wagon of Wonders

Allies: Birsin, Boneburn, Exona, Relathon

Foes: Braenkor, Propyior, Aralor

Superior: None

Symbol: A coiled whip

Worshipper Alignment: CG, CN, CE

Favored Weapon: “Freaklash” (Whip)

Cleric Domains: Chaos, Charm, Luck, Trade, Travel

Summary: Pharis is a deity that is hard to pin down.  Some claim him to be a hard hearted god, vindictively protective of the outcasts and vagabonds who worship him.  Others claim that he is a fun loving trickster, whose cons only affect those who would seek to harm his worshippers.  Still others claim him to be an enigmatic performer, travelling from place to place to shock and delight audiences of all races, species, and ages with the most mysterious and bizarre performances, spectacles, and exhibits he can find.

                All of these images are true.  And none of them are.  Pharis lends great credence to the opinions of scholars who claim that the belief of mortal worshippers can change the very nature of the deity they worship.  Since there exists within his clergy great dispute over his exact nature, that nature is never quite the same.  Until one of the views of him gains enough hold to be the dominant opinion, he is likely to continue to be a deity in flux.

                Despite that, he is an active deity.  His personal domain is a wagon (sometimes a caravan of wagons) that travels the planes, seeking audiences for their grand performances.  Some rumor that Pharis alone possesses the ability to come and go from the Valt cosmology at will, even exploring other universes.

                He is remarkably consistent in his insistence that the show is the most important part of his travels.  He has played for gods and for elementals, and set up his makeshift carnival in the upper celestial planes as well as on the twelfth layer of the Hells.  He will perform for any audience capable of intelligent thought, and each performance is guaranteed to amaze and amuse even the most jaded of cosmic being.

History/Relationships: The oldest deities claim that Pharis is a newcomer, although they cannot state specifically when he came into being.  Younger deities claim him to be one of the old guard.  Some scholars speculate that he used to be a different deity, and that he assumed a new mantle after some catastrophe befell his previous persona or followers.

                It is likely that he emerged sometime during the Second Dark, although that is conjecture at best.  Since his arrival, he has managed to annoy some deities, enrage others, and earn the undying loyalties of still others.

                Given the transitory nature of his church, and its lack of organization, it is difficult to ascertain how long the uncertainty regarding his nature has been going on.  No mortal cleric of his faith can remember a time when all of them agreed on his exact demeanor.

                His friends include Relathon and Boneburn, fellow travelers with whom he shares common interests.  When separated from his companions, the only deity he has any real dealings of note with is Exona.  The two of them have been lovers off and on for centuries, although neither has any special commitment to the other.  Birsin has been known to assist him from time to time, although his protection of the physically deformed baffles and disgusts her.

                Braenkor is his steadfast foe, for his followers have much to fear from the depredations of the god of bandits and brigands.  Since his followers tend to exist on just the wrong side of the law, he also runs into trouble with Aralor and Propyior, since the gods of law and law enforcement take a dim view of his itinerant (often thieving, they say) worshippers.

Manifestations: With his roving Wagon of Wonders, Pharis can appear anywhere at any time.  Although on the Prime Material plane he is likely to disguise himself and his companions as mundane creatures, no plane is free from his influence, and he is just as likely to appear and set up outside a Githzerai monastery as he is the Infernal court.

                In his deific form, Pharis can appear any way he chooses, although he almost always wears a fancy waistcoat with tails.  This coat may be new and shiny or worn and dilapidated as he sees fit, although a more faded, run down look is the common image.  He usually appears in human form, although other forms have been spotted.  He is usually old, middle age at the youngest.  When on the Prime Material plane, he disguises himself, and so may appear in any form imaginable, from a beautiful elf maid to an orcish midget.

                His travelling companions change frequently, and his show is composed of devout worshippers, extraplanar performers, or lucky mortals selected to join the crew.  Their skills vary as widely as they do, although they are always dazzling (or terrifying).

                The Wagon of Wonders itself can appear as Pharis wishes it to.  Sometimes it is a silk laden gypsy wagon; sometimes it is made of the finest wood and pulled by pure white stallions of enormous size.  Usually the Wagon appears in a form that is strange and exotic to the residents of the area they are travelling through.

                The exhibits inside the Wagon also vary, as Pharis discovers new ones or discards old ones.  Once again, he is likely to showcase the things that will be considered the most strange and unusual to the audience.  Many one of a kind creatures and items are hidden away in this wagon, which has a near limitless capacity.

THE CHURCH

                The church of Pharis has no set structure.  Since it usually proliferates amongst groups of travelling performers, the highest ranked clergy member will typically set the standard for any one group, although any two groups will likely have differences in ideology.

Priests: Ringmasters, or Scourges (although the former is usually used by good priests and the latter by evil ones)

Alignment: CG, CN, CE

Classes: Cleric, sorcerer, bard

Dogma: The unlucky few are born with abilities or gifts which cause envy, fear, or amazement in all those who see them.  Too often they are shunned or outcast by the jealous or the frightened.  All of these are your family.  Together you share a common bond of isolation.  When used correctly, your gifts are your greatest asset: they will pay you to see them, and pay you a little more to take them away.  To your family you owe everything, for they will shield and guide you.  To the outsiders you owe nothing.  Remember, it was they who shunned you.  Shun them and everything they represent.  Only those who know the hardship and struggle on the road are worth your respect.

Day-to-Day activities: Priests of Pharis spend their time coordinating the travelling shows that they oversee.  If they do not direct, but merely travel with such a group of travelling performers, they may spend their time researching routes, making schedules for the group.  They might also focus on ways to use their divine gifts to make the shows more impressive or fearsome.  All in all, they are largely free to do as they choose, since there is no higher authority within the church.  Beyond the group of travelers they go with, there is no organization.

Worship locations: No permanent ones.  If a large group of travelling performers is led by a cleric or follower of the Freakfather, then typically one wagon in the caravan will be designated as a shrine.  Usually this is the wagon which is used by the members of the freak show, if the travelers have such a thing.  Either way, altars to Pharis tend to be grand affairs, with ornate designs and exotic materials.  They are almost always small enough to be portable, and most serve double duty as the podium from which the Ringmaster will conduct the performance.  In this way, the awe and fear of the crowd acts as a living tribute to their deity.

Affiliated Orders: None

Apostasy: Although neither of these factions have names, there are two factions which are equal in power to those presented above.  The entry as presented is merely the way that Pharis is perceived by those outside the faith.

                Nearly a third of Pharis’s worshippers instead view him as a caring, gentle deity, one who takes in and shelters the weak and the outcast.  They view it as their divine mandate to shelter and protect society’s rejects, especially the ones who have been cast aside for no fault of their own, such as the physically deformed.  This group worships Pharis as though he was CG, and they and their worshippers may be NG, CG, or CN.  They do not have access to the Luck domain, instead gaining access to the Family domain.

                The remainder of the priests of Pharis view him as a spiteful, vindictive god.  They believe that he teaches and advocates banding together only to take whatever they can get from a world that hates and rejects them.  They do not view any of what they do as ‘wrong’ since only members of their faith are worth any kind of human decency.  They steal, lie, and con any they come across.  They worship Pharis as CE, may be of NE, CE, or CN alignment, and trade the Luck domain for the Trickery domain.

                For an outsider, these three factions are nearly impossible to detect, since they all tend to act the same towards those who are not included in their circle.  The fact that the church itself doesn’t have enough organization to recognize that there even are three separate factions only adds to the confusion.

Vestments: The priests of Pharis tend to dress in flashy colors and bizarre styles.  They are usually masters of a dozen different cultural styles, and will typically adopt one that is exotic to the region that they are in.  This, like much of their behavior, adds to their mystique.  Older male priests often prefer dilapidated waistcoats with tails, and battered top hats, in order to emulate the popular portrayal of their god.  Like their church, there is no set style or preference for displaying their holy symbol, so long as it is distinctive.  Delicate wire pendants, brutal scarification, and elaborate tattoos are all common.

Holy Days/Ceremonies:  The church practices only two ceremonies, and no holy days.  Upon inducting a new follower, the worshippers and clergy alike gather to initiate the new follower into their fold.  This also happens when a worshipper joins a different group of followers.  The details of this are unique to each group, but are always kept highly secret.

                Sometimes, rarely, someone turns the tricks, charms, and cons of the church back upon themselves.  Usually the church lets such slights go.  But in extreme cases, where a follower has been taken advantage of and betrayed, the church declares a vengeance on the betrayer.  The unlucky victim is hunted down and subjected to indescribable tortures, both physical and magical.  The hideous thing that they are transformed into is taken on the road with them, a living testament to the horrendous vengeance of Pharis’s worshippers.

Oath: The Oath of Encore.  A priest of Pharis must always be able to perform on command.  Although he is not required to perform repeatedly for the same person, he must be able to at least give a token performance for anyone who requests it.  This can be as small as a minor feat of legerdemain, or as grand as reciting an epic saga in the middle of the street.  Those who try the patience of a priest with this oath can find themselves surprised when the requested ‘performance’ involves them as an unwitting (or unwilling!) volunteer.

                In exchange for their dedication to their craft, priests with this Oath can always generate a crowd.  By standing on a rock, wagon, or other object, and shouting out cries for attention and cracking their whip overhead, priests can summon a crowd as if by magic.  This can only be used in actual communities, not in a dungeon or the middle of the ocean.

                The crowd which filters in is equal to the priest’s caster level multiplied by the community modifier for the town. (If positive.  If below one, instead multiple caster level by one.)  This ability is called ‘Barking’ and takes a number of minutes equal to the priest’s caster level.

                Barking is a supernatural ability as well as a mind affecting, compulsion effect.

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So, after a long hiatus which I can only blame upon laziness, I have returned, with one of my missing supplements on the Deities of Valt.  As requested by my loving and adoring fiancee, I have chosen Grugor’s god to be next.

 

Boneburn (bone-BURN)

The Bastard, Trailblazer, the Mongrel

NG Lesser Power of the Everchanging Wildscape

Pantheon: General

Portfolio: Half-breeds, explorers, pioneers, frontier folk

Domain: None

Allies: Nyfkis, Pharis, Relathon

Foes: Aksan, Braencor, Mythys

Symbol: A trailblazing mark resembling an ‘X’ with one arm extended

Worshipper Alignment: LN, LG, NG, CG, CN

Favored Weapon: “Brushcutter” (short sword)

Domains: Good, Luck, Strength, Travel, Trade

Summary: Boneburn is the consummate explorer.  He is constantly on the move, seeking new places to see and to discover.  He tries to get back to places which have undergone large scale change, to see what they have become in his absence.  Even non-worshippers travelling through wilderness frequently send up a prayer to him for their safe arrival at their destination.

History/Relationships: Boneburn is the child of Nyfkis and Jerluan, making him half orc and half elf.  He is accepted by neither of his parents’ people, and so went his own way, taking on the mantle of gods of half breeds.  Boneburn is commonly held to be the first deity born in Valt.

                During the Godstorms, Boneburn’s power waned severely.  His clerics were nearly nonexistent, and his worshippers almost unheard of.  If his mother had not shared her divine essence with him, he would likely have faded to nonexistence.  As the civilized races began to brave the storms he slowly regained power, and since the storms have ended, his power has expanded dramatically.

                During his travels, Boneburn frequently takes on humanoid form.  During one of these journeys he befriended the mortal Tantori.  Boneburn still holds out hope that his friend can be redeemed, although he is the only deity to believe this.

                Braencor and Mythys are his constant foes, as they are gods of those who assault and destroy the travelers who worship him.  Aksan has taken advantage of Boneburn’s patience and goodwill once too often, and so the Mongrel will have nothing further to do with the Tyrant.

                Boneburn still loves and respects his mother, although he tries to resist being drawn into her far reaching schemes.  She has hopes of bringing her son into the orcish family of deities, although he has never showed any desire to do so.  For that record, the orcish people do not strongly desire to worship him as a deity anyway.

                Relathon and Pharis are frequent travelling companions of Boneburn’s, and the three regularly travel with one another.  Their communal interests make their clergies more likely to support each other than any other.

Manifestations: Boneburn is depicted as a tall humanoid, muscled and lean, with pointed ears and teeth.  He has brown hair and a very light greenish tint to his skin.  He can be depicted with his orcish or elvish features more accentuated, depending on the race of the artist.  As the god of half-breeds, he is occasionally depicted as a member of a different racial combination.  (Such as half-ogre, genasi, or even stranger combinations, but these are rare.)

                Boneburn frequently manifests in humanoid form, exploring the outer planes or the prime material, as the mood strikes him.  He often disguises himself, and only rarely reveals his divine nature.  Whatever his appearance, he always appears as a half-breed or a race not native to the area he is in.  In this way, he is better able to gauge the people he encounters, judging them by the way they treat outsiders.

THE CHURCH

                The church of Boneburn is almost nonexistent as a structured institution.  The variations in the temples and clerics that compose it are extreme, and one temple may bear almost no resemblance to another.

Priests: Wardens

Alignment: LG, NG, CG

Classes: Cleric, ranger, paladin

Dogma: Be always on the move, but do not move so fast that you cannot see the scenery.  There is always something more to see.  Live and let live as you go, for evil is in action, rather than intent.  When you leave a place, leave it better than you found it.  Those who go bravely into the hostile places so others may later follow are the greatest amongst heroes.

Day to Day activities:  There are two branches of the clergy of Boneburn.  The first branch, known as Blazers, are always on the move, exploring, scouting, and discovering that which has remained hidden or undiscovered for hundreds of years.  They constantly seek out rumors of places which are unmapped, or abandoned structures that have lost for years.  They often take ranks in skills which aid them in cartography, and frequently provide those maps free of charge to those who can make use of them.  They also seek out those who waylay travelers, and show them the error of their ways.  These clerics are solitary, and the only traditions they have are those that are passed down between mentor and apprentice.

                The other branch is the Pioneers.  This branch is more sedentary.  They found temples in frontier towns, serving as a church for those who come to establish permanent communities.  They perform all the necessary functions of a church until such time as the community is permanent enough to warrant a permanent temple.  Once another church is founded in the same village, the Wardens usually move on.  While functioning in their role as the church of the frontier town, the Wardens try to encourage developments that will help the town, such as irrigation, schools, and other hallmarks of an established town.  They also try to forge peaceful and lasting relationships with their neighbors, to facilitate the growth and stability of the town.

Worship Locations:  The Blazers do not have temples, and the Pioneers build their temples in whatever location, and out of whatever materials, are most convenient.  They are primarily for utility, not decoration.  Sometimes, if the arrival of a certain clergy is something that is to be expected, such as a town on the coast attracting the clergy of Relathon, then the Wardens will prepare for their arrival, and build their temple in the style of the clergy that will eventually use it.

Affiliated Orders: The Order of St. Sagrephus is an order of paladins.  They all swear a vow to spend their lives travelling, assisting other travelers by guiding and protecting them.  They are usually solitary, unless there is a threat to travelers which requires a larger number of them.

Apostasy: None.

Vestments: Priests wear sturdy boots and travelling gear, so as to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.  They wear their holy symbol as a brooch or pendant, carved from scorched or bleached animal bone.

Holy Days/Ceremonies: Although individual temples or priests may have their own rituals, and may teach those to others, the only ritual recognized by the church as a whole is the First Step.  Upon a priest’s initiation into the church, when she is fully recognized as no longer being an apprenticed, she undergoes a night of storytelling and prayer with her mentor.  In the morning she sets out for a journey, which can be to anyplace she chooses, so long as she has never been there before.

Oath: The Oath of Everwalking.  The priest vows to never let the sun set on him sleeping in the same location twice in a row.  He gains +10 to his movement speed, but if he ever breaks his oath, he dies in his sleep.  His chance for travel encounters is also halved, although he may suppress the latter ability if he chooses to do so.  The priest is spared death from this oath if he is imprisoned (by force) or unconscious.  If he is unaware of his location (such as being the victim of a Hallucinatory Terrain spell), then death does not occur either.

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