Thursday, November 28, 2013

L is for the Lord of Deep Waters

The Lord of Deep Waters is a primordial being, said to be as old as if not older than the Elder Titans. Legends say that when the Elder Titans created the Ocean Seas, they awoke the Lord of Deep Waters from his long slumber. Since that day he has ruled the Ocean Seas, and since the formation of the Serene Sea in elder days sought to claim those waters as his own, as well. There he is opposed by the Lady of the Serene Sea, and their followers have ever been at odds.

Also known simply as Father Kraken, King of the Deeps, or Master of Sharks, krakens are his primary messengers, and thus his depictions in statuary and other art usually depict him as a kraken of unimaginable size, or as a human with a kraken-shaped head complete with tentacles and a great beak. He is worshipped by sailors, pirates, and fishermen, and is a major figure in the cult of the Thundigoth and the semi-civilized peoples of the Sunrise Islands and Dragon Isles. His worship is strongest in the isles of the Sea of Storms and the Steaming Seas, less so in the Sunrise Sea, and least so, though often still propitiated, in ports around the Serene Sea.

His temples are always built half on land, half in water, with a wide oval water-filled arena open at one end to the sea. Sacrifices are made by casting the person or animal into the waters, wherein resides a small kraken, sea serpents, or school of sharks. So too is cast his share of the treasures given to the temple, gathered by the fish-men or shark-men that hide it in subterranean water-filled vaults. Since the fall of Okeánopolis during the Doom, his primary center of worship has been at Søslanghavn on the Isle of the Kraken at the demarcation between the Sea of Storms and the Sunrise Sea. There he is more usually depicted as a great sea serpent.

Priests wear robes of dark blue with black kraken and/or shark patterns, trimmed in green. They wear silver headbands, the number of pearls indicating their rank in the temple; evil high priests wear crowns of silver, coral, and pearls. Priests may only eat seafood and vegetables, never red meats or fowl, and must wear their hair in long braids like the tentacles of a kraken (males must wear long beard thusly braided). Priests can only wield daggers and tridents.

They possess spells of creating and controlling water, winds, and storms (at sea), summoning and commanding water elementals and sea life, and the usual assortment of blessings and curses. Their power is greatest at high tides, weakest at low tides; strongest in salt water, weaker in fresh water, and yet weaker still the further they go from any of the seas. Men and women are welcomed in the priesthood; they have no requirements of chastity or celibacy, but they may not take followers of other faiths as lovers or spouses.

Followers of the Lord of Deep Waters expect, upon death, to join their dread lord most intimately, their souls consumed by him such that they become a part of him and his power for all eternity. The souls of those who have failed him are eternally reincarnated as small fish, ever eaten again and again, over and over, by bigger fish.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

S is for the Storm Isles

Her Royal Mistress of the Deeps, Lhyggja Bleydhja, Matriarch of the Temple of the Lord of Deep Waters, Queen of the Storm Isles (Chaotic Evil 12th level Savage Priestess of the Lord of Deep Waters)

Capital: Søslanghavn [City of Serpents] (pop. 17,500)
Humans: 250,000
Demi-humans: Few
Humanoids: Few
Monsters: The isles themselves have few monsters, but the waters around them teem with krakens, sharks, and sea serpents. There is a large amount of faerie activity on the isles, as usual, likely due to the lack of other monsters to provide competition. Some of the isles are known from ancient days as burial grounds, and are covered with large numbers of barrows; many of these are used as sidhe by the faeries, while others are occupied by wights, wraiths, and other undead and their ancient treasures.
Languages: Common; North Gottish, East Gottish, Elysian.
Resources: Copper, food (pickled fish), gems (coral, pearls), ships, spices

When the first Gotha settlers arrived on the Isle of Storms 2500 years ago, they discovered primitive, savage, and decadent tribes of disparate peoples. The decadent folk living in ruined cities and citadels were extirpated, as were the strange savages of the valleys and shores, while the primitives of the forested hills and cold mountains were eventually assimilated over long centuries. It was this savage mix of primitive and barbarian that eventually spread out as the core of the Nordgottisch peoples to conquer the isles of the Sea of Storms and eventually to return west, to settle the Hoarfrost Coast and found new tribes that, centuries later, poured from the Starcrags and crushed the Olden Empire under their heels.
Thus the Gotha of the Isle of Storms are a proud, prideful people, and consider themselves as the first among equals of the Gotha race. They cleave to the Oldest Ways, or so they say, and claim to have the purest bloodlines. The caste system of the Sturmølings, as they are known, is quite strong, as is the class system of Noble, Priest, Warrior, and Thrall. Fortunately for the denizens of the Sea of Storms and further lands, the Noble Clans of the Sturmølings are a fractious bunch, more given to fighting over internal rivalries than uniting for further conquest. Thus most encounters with Sturmølings are merely viking raiders or merchant traders rather than the cold, hard conquerors of centuries past.

The Sturmølings are additionally riven by their religious loyalties, with the ancient Gotha triad of Iron God, Storm God, and Lord of Deep Waters being the three primary factions. Currently the temple of the Lord of Deep Waters is ascendant, in a personal alliance with the Bleydhja Clan. While the matriarch’s grip on the temple is strong, her hold on the clan is weak. Her foolish, open attempts to strength her temple’s power at the cost of the other temples, and at the cost of no few nobler clans, has nearly driven the noble houses to open civil war.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

T is for Thundigoth Isle

Independent citadels, towns, and tribes

Capital: None; the major settlements are:
Drøkkarhavn [Dragon Harbor] (pop. 3,300)
Høyåsnøbyn [Grandhill] (pop. 4,900)
Køngerstaad [Kingstown] (pop. 6,800)
Humans: 800,000
Demi-humans: Some (all of the Chaos-ridden, monstrously depraved, and decadently bestial variety)
Humanoids: Goblin-Men (100,000), Goblins (40,000), Hobgoblins (40,000), Bugbears (10,000), Half-Ogres (8,000), Ogres (2,000)
Monsters: Albino apes, cave bears, giant boars, all varieties of dragons, giants of all kinds, griffons, hippogriffs, wooly mammoths, pegasi, saber-tooth tigers, trolls, troldfolk, giant weasels, werebears, wereboars, werewolves, dire wolves, and wyverns. Strange, Chaos-ridden breeds of dwarves, elves, and fairies, native to the local Chaos-haunted Otherworld, are encountered throughout the land, as are their half-breed children, the changelings. The waters nearby are filled with krakens and sea serpents.
Languages: Common; North Gottish, East Gottish, Dredhiac, Ogrish, Dwarvish, Trollish, Giantish, Draconic.
Resources: Furs, iron, ivory, lumber, silver, wood (rare)

When Gotha settlers from the Storm Isles first arrived on Thundigoth, they found a patchwork of savage goblins and primitive troldfolk, barbaric tribes of men and ancient mysterious ruins peopled by strange, decadent semi-human races. Unlike those encountered by their ancestors on the Storm Isles, the decadent peoples of the ruined cities still had some power, and thus rather than being extirpated were, over time, assimilated, as were the tribesmen. Thus, the three major kingdoms, nine minor kingdoms, and scores of petty kingdoms of the isle all clam descent from a mix of Gotha, locals peoples, and even goblins and troldfolk.

The Gotha who settled Thundigoth were mostly independent-minded younger sons of younger sons of nobles, heterodoxical priests, and poor warriors, all who sought freedom from the growing caste and class systems of the Storm Isles. The civilization that they founded and their descendants have maintained is thus far more chaotic and socially mobile than that of Storm Isle or the continental peoples. A man with mighty thews and a strong sword can rise from the least warrior to the greatest king; and just as easily be cast down by the next great warrior.

That said, the three major kingdoms remain fairly steady and strong, due not to the swords of their kings but to the might of their sorcerers. For each is founded amidst the ruins of an ancient forbear kingdom, the peoples of which were steeped in ancient sorceries, the descendants of whom maintain some small vestige of magical might, and ever seek after more.. Each kingdom also commands, through magic, the loyalty of fierce steeds, ridden by their greatest warriors: dragonnels (Dragon Harbor), griffons (Grandhill), and pegasi (Kingstown).