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For the eleventh part of the series, Phil has requested that I do the Harvest King.  Since the Harvest festival is analagous to Halloween, it seemed like a fitting time to do it.  Yes, that’s why I waited three weeks to post this.  It had nothing to do with laziness, and was all for appropriate timing.  As a quick aside, there is eight holiday deities in Valt, one for each month which does not contain a solstice or an equinox.  The holiday deities are less powerful than most.  Their clerics spend the rest of the year masquerading as clerics of other deities.  This is described more fully herein.

As always, if you have a suggestion for a deity (“Hey Jim, who is the god of <blank> in your world?”) or I have mentioned a deity that you want to know more about (“That one ally/enemy/related god sounded cool!  What are they about?”) then by all means let me know!  Suggestions make me more likely to work.  (And, yes, Numaar.  I am still working on the Spotlight on Numbrar.  No relation.)

Harvest King

The Harvester, the Harvest God, the Huntsman, Jack of Lanterns
CN Demipower of the Infernoply

Pantheon: General
Portfolio: Harvest festivals, vendettas
Domain: The Teeth of Vengeance (the Infernoply)
Allies: Wasserl, Hommirell, Kogorak
Enemies: Malarise, Lakalle
Symbol: A scary looking mask
Worshipper Alignment: CG, CN, CE
Favored Weapon: The Impending Evil (Greataxe)
Cleric Domains: Chaos, Luck, Retribution, War

Summary: The Harvester is a fearsome deity.  As a seasonal deity, he is only widely given worship during the various harvest festivals which occur across Valt.  Although the specifics will vary from region to region, the end result is the same: The Harvester is the scourge of the darkness.  The monsters that prey in the darkness fear the single night a year that he is allowed to walk the material plane again.
                Although he is worshipped by members of many races, he is most commonly worshipped by hobgoblins.  His hobgoblish followers worship him not merely during the time of harvest, but year round.
                The Harvest King is a loner deity.  His tower fortress, which rests in the demon-filled Infernopoly, is his home for the majority of the year.  On one night per year, he rides forth, clad in demonic looking armor, greataxe in hand, and hunts his chosen targets.  From sundown to sunrise on that night, he seeks out a short list of intelligent undead and destroys them.
                No one has ever seen beneath his mask.  It is postulated that those who dwell with him in his tower may have done so, but no one who enters the fortress is ever allowed out again.  Despite this, many hobgoblins, half-orcs, and other more martially inclined folks worship the Harvester for the chance to dwell within his fortress, doing eternal combat against the demons which assail it.

History/Relationships: The Harvester is the newest deity on Valt.  Although festivals during harvest time have been common throughout history in Valt, there was no deity associated with the season.  Towards the end of the Third Dark, reports began to emerge of bizarre hobgoblin raids.  During the harvest season, hobgoblins would be seen in demonic looking armor, conducting lightning raids against the undead.  The first followers of the Harvester, these hobgoblins would spread word of his worship to the rest of the world.
                Although the Harvester himself is a loner, who never seeks the support of other deities, his followers do tend to align themselves with the clergies of other gods on occasion.  They respect Wasserl’s loner nature, seeing the two gods as kindred spirits.  Followers of the two deities will often work together during the Harvest festivals. (Usually to hunt an undead encroaching on the cleric of Wasserl’s territory.)  They have a similar feeling towards the clergy of Hommirell, and since the god of rangers is no friend to undead, they often find mutual ground to work on.
                Kogorak’s clerics have neither special love nor antipathy for the Huntsman, but always relish the opportunity to destroy creatures which have evaded their own demise for extraneous lengths of time.  The Stormlord’s clerics will happily assist any followers of the Harvester on their yearly raids, if only for the chance to advance their own dogma.
                Malarise and Lakalle compel their clerics to spread word about the Huntsman, so that their undead followers can properly defend themselves or relocate should they be the target of a Harvest festival attack.  If the two were capable of assaulting the fortress of the Harvester, they certainly would.  Its location deep within the realm of the fiends makes it nigh unassailable, however.

Manifestations: The Harvest King manifests once a year.  At sundown on Harvest night, whichever follower of the Harvester was deemed most worthy based on the supplications of the previous Soul Night festivities is chosen as that year’s vessel.  The Harvester possesses his chosen, manifesting until sunrise.  The Harvest King leads any followers to battle against any undead that the followers have targeted.  If they have time yet remaining, they roam the surrounding area, slaying any undead they can find.
                When the possession occurs, the vessel is transformed to resemble the Harvest King.  Although the details of his armor will be based on the costume and personality of his vessel, he is always adorned in full hobgoblish armor.  (Similar to samurai armor.)  He wears a mask that conceals his upper face.  Forged from infernal iron, the black metal mask resembles a snarling demon, its teeth extending down far enough to cover the Huntsman’s chin.  He never removes this mask.  In battle he wields a great axe, its blade singed and sooty, with a black tassel of hair hanging from the pommel.  He is capable of calling his mount, an advanced 20 HD nightmare from anywhere on the material plane.
                When he departs the following morning, any damage suffered by the vessel is cured, as well as any negative status effects such as nausea, ability damage, negative levels, or spell effects.  If the vessel was alone, imprisoned, or removed from the material plane, they are instantly transported to the nearest temple of a friendly deity.  Any such vessel will be forever marked by their god’s presence.  When outside in the moonlight, their eyes will glow with a hellish green radiance, and tiny tendrils of heatless green flame will trickle upwards from their eyes.

THE CHURCH

Priests: Zugan no kano (Hobgoblish for “Death hunter”)

Alignment: CG, CN (Although worshippers can be chaotic evil, clerics cannot)

Classes: Cleric, sorcerer

Dogma: Don your mask, and sharpen your sword.  Bring to the tyrant his final reward.  So all to arms now, with brave brothers ride.  Make dead men feel fear on this Harvest Night.

Day-to-Day activities: During the rest of the year, the death hunters, like all clerics of seasonal deities, pretend to be clerics of another deity.  For the Huntsman, popular choices include Kogorak, Hommirell, Wasserl, and Eksus, although plenty of them choose other deities.  They live and dwell as members of that clergy, following the doctrine and dictates of the clerics they are impersonating.
                Only during Harvest time do they don their true mantles, organizing and encouraging Harvest festivals.  Once Harvest night is finished, they return to their ‘regular’ lives.  While some of their “fellow” clerics (those of the faith they belong to the rest of the year) may hold their yearly activities against them, the vast majority do not.

Worship Locations: None.

Affiliated Orders: The Hell’s Teeth Witches are an order of spellcasters (arcane or divine) that worship the Harvester.  They take any spellcaster who meets their standards.  While they are typically loners, they occasionally work with small groups who specialize in destroying undead.

Apostasy: None.

Vestments: During Harvest time, the Zugan no kano wear heavy armor, usually shaped to resemble a horrific monster.  They patrol the streets of their communities during the weeks leading up to the Harvest festival, lest some undead they are targeting make a preemptive strike against them.  While on these patrols, they carry lanterns made from pumpkins or other gourds, carved with the most hideous visages they are capable of depicting.
                The holy symbol of the Huntsman is the mask that they wear.  High priests favor masks with lenses that are enchanted with Permanent Torch to flicker with yellow, red, or purple fire (never green).  Although the Harvester wields a great axe, his hobgoblish clerics wield the single edged bastard swords their race is famous for (katana).  They treat the hobgoblish bastard sword as his favored weapon for all intents and purposes, including feats, class features, and spells.

Holy Days/Ceremonies:  Although the specifics of the festivities vary, harvest time (late fall) is always a time of celebrations of plenty and remembrance.  People of all cultures give thanks to their deities for the bounties that they have, while at the same time in some fashion commemorating their past.
                Harvest Night (the sixteenth of Huskyr) is considered the one night of the year when the dead souls who have been consigned to the lower realms can return to the world.  These souls will be gathered up and returned to hell come morning, but during the night they have the chance to trick someone else into taking their place, find some kind of magic to return them to life, or engage in all kinds of other nefarious activities designed to torment the living or escape their fate.
                The Huntsman brought a devious (and cheap) trick with him, which is how he has caught on so quickly: the lanterns that his clerics use, when placed at doors or windows, provide remarkably effective at scaring away returned souls.  The clerics of the Jack of Lanterns happily provide these to any who make a small donation to the church (usually about twice as much as the cost of a pumpkin and a candle).  Although pumpkins are the preferred choice in Numbrar, other alternatives, such as squashes, melons, or coconuts are equally acceptable materials.
                On Soul Night (Huskyr the fifteenth), all the followers of the Harvester gather together for a ceremony, closed to outsiders.  These ceremonies can take the form of a somber ritual or a raucous celebration.  Those in attendance are there to choose the undead target that their group will go after.  The secondary function of the ceremony is to help the Harvester choose his vessel.  Some groups choose to hold competitions of intelligence or strength in order to prove themselves worthy.  Some recite tales of their chosen foe’s villainy, in order to make their cause the most just.  Some choose impossible battles, hoping that their god will realize if he does not choose one of them, then they will surely die.
                On Harvest Day, the clerics of the Jack of Lanterns preside over their local Harvest festivals.  Towards the end of the day, they slip away, gathering together with any militant friends that have gathered to join their cause.  At nightfall, when the sun sinks below the horizon, the hunt begins.  The vessel is chosen.  Those who do not receive the presence of their god fight twice as hard, hoping to curry his favor for the next year.  For the duration of the night, all sentient undead listen with a wary ear for the sound of an approaching war band.
                Many wonder why the Harvest King has never chosen to attack the Scaled Emperor, largely considered the worst undead tyrant in existence.  Certainly there is no lack of those trying to kill the Emperor of Fassett.  In fact, at least one group tries every year.  Thus far, they have all been slain to the last one.

Oath: The Oath of the Certainty.  Unlike most clergies, nearly all clerics of the Harvest King take this oath.  The cleric vows to never retreat from a battle against an undead.  Reasonability is allowed.  Falling back to a more advantageous position is still perfectly fine, but outright fleeing the field of battle is not permitted.  The cleric gains a +2 divine bonus to AC against undead opponents, and a +2 bonus to all saves while in the direct pursuit of an undead foe on Harvest Night.

As a side note, this is the only deity in my game (and in my campaign history as a DM) that used to be a PC.  Special thanks to Phil.  This deity was made in conjunction with him, and I appreciate his work in helping me to flesh out my own little D&D world.

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