Alia – Mechanical Goddess

Sculpture by John Duncan Fergusson

Saw this sculpture on Wikipedia today, and it inspired me. Looks like an appropriate goddess for the mechanical men who run about in NOD.

ALIA, GODDESS OF THE MECHANICAL MEN
Goddess of Sun, Wisdom, Harmony, Dance
Neutral (LN)
Worshiped by Mechanical Men, Sages, Engineers, Royalty
Carries no weapons

Alia is the sun goddess of the mechanical men. The mechanical peoples have a different relation to the Sun than living creatures. They require no warmth, and do not eat, but they do require light and recognize its central place in the scheme of things. To the mechanical men, Alia is a goddess of reason and harmony, and her priests are usually Lawful (LG) or Neutral (LN) as a result. Her role as a slayer of darkness/evil or bringer of new life is underplayed by them, and instead she is conceived as more of a wise woman, holding a combination of a salon and grand ball, in which the other heavenly spheres dance and commune. Her priests, therefore, are skilled at dancing and are more sages than warriors, though they acknowledge the need to combat Chaos (Evil), as it attempts to disrupt and wear down the mechanical universe, of which they are microcosms.

CULT SPELL: HARMONIOUS ACTION

Cleric 4 (Clerics of Alia only)
30 ft. range
1 minute duration

Harmonious action permits all allies within the spell’s range to move and act in perfect harmony while engaged in melee combat. The cleric chooses one enemy target in particular. Each of the cleric’s allies, in addition to making a normal move and melee attack, can make an extra melee attack at a -5 penalty on the cleric’s chosen foe, provided that foe is within their range.

History of Nod, Part III – The Dwarves

Today, we cover the ancient history of the dwarves of NOD, with a special bonus at the end covering the identities of the major Kabir and Igigi.

Image by Jon Kaufman (pachycrocuta at DA – check him out for commissions!)

The ancient elves, being fey creatures, were physically malleable. Not to the extent of the Kabir, of course, who could assume any shape they pleased. The elves were humanoid in shape, and humanoid they would stay. But when they were angry, their faces twisted and their bodies distorted (sometimes called a warp spasm), and when they were happy, they almost glowed with joy. An elf’s children were physical duplicates of their parent’s emotional and spiritual selves.

As the ancient elves grew darker, their children grew uglier. Thus were born the orcs, goblins, bugbears, hobgoblins and dwarves. These waifs were turned out into the wilderness by their disgusted parents to die, but many were rescued by entities who saw them either as useful pawns in their own sinister games, or in the case of the dwarves, who were born of greed, by the compassion of Ys, who believed they might be brought up to do good in the world despite their parentage.

Ys was correct about the dwarves, hiding them in the mountains and under the hills, and shepherding their development until they were honorable men and women, industrious, clever and just. Of course, they were still greedy and stubborn as all get out, but nobody is perfect.

As was mentioned before, the dwarves were no match for the ancient elves, and were forced to pay tribute to them. A dwarf loves his gold, and being cheated of it brought a terrible hatred for the elves among the dwarves, and they bent their minds to one day throwing off this indignity. They were a patient folk, the dwarves, and they had much time to plan and scheme. They forged weapons of power and hid them away, and watched as the debauched elves grew insular and petty. They had long ago stopped having children with one another, choosing instead to produce children with their more handsome human slaves, that they might escape the aforementioned curse of “ugly children”. In time, there were many more humans and half-elves in their kingdoms and empires than true elves. The time the dwarves had waited for had finally arrived.

In this time, the disparate elven kingdoms had come under the control of a queen-of-queens, an elf called Vinrix. Vinrix was the most powerful elf of her age, and nothing to be trifled with. When her people came to the high king of the dwarves, Dvalinn, with demands that a hundred-thousand of his people be delivered into slavery to build her monuments, he declined, and sent back from his halls a few bloodied and blinded survivors carrying the heads of their comrades. This, of course, meant war.

War between the elves and dwarves centered around the dwarven holds in the Bleeding Mountains, which in those days were known as Golden Mountains. The elves besieged the dwarves in their mountain holds, as Dvalinn had desired, and slowly but surely the dwarves chipped away at the strength of the elven armies, slaying their great wizard-lords with such mundane things as rockets and cannon. More importantly, they undermined the positions of the elves, and bypassing their enemy’s lines worked their wiles on the human slaves that formed the bulk of the elves’ strength. Before the elves knew it, their human subjects were in open revolt, and they were forced to divide their armies again and again until they were spread thin across the globe.

It finally came about that the dwarves left their strongholds to challenge the army of Vinrix in the field. The elves had made camp around the base of the Crown Stone, the keystone their magical network of standing stones, which augmented their eldritch power and denied it to most other folk. There the dwarves went with humans and others in tow, and joined battle with their ancient enemies. Eventually, it was a matter of High King against Empress, and finally, her back pressed against the Crown Stone itself, the dwarf made a last mighty swing with his hammer and missed. The hammer, forged in the raging elemental fires beneath the earth, tempered in the immaculate grudges of the dwarves, cracked the great stone his people had raised, and everything was cast in a brilliant white light.

Those who were far enough away to have seen the event and survived tell of a great white light that lasted but an instant and then disappeared, followed by a great rush of wind. Vinrix and Dvalinn and their armies were gone, as was the Crown Stone and, with it, the network of standing stones. Some toppled physically, others remained standing, but the great network that channeled magical energy was gone. Where once there stood the Crown Stone on a lush prairie, there was now a great, gaping gulf – a piece torn from the Material Plane. A few bits of land floated in this black gulf, this void-scar on the landscape, but the rest was gone.
With the magic dissipated across the globe, the impossible cities of the elves toppled and those who were left found themselves the inheritors of wrack and ruin.

Needless to say, the elves were none too happy about this. To be sure, the greatest of their cities still stood, fabled Tara Tilal, but most of the others were gone. The elves were now weakened, and they were forced into the wilderness by their former slaves. While some repented and turned back to their ancient gods, many others had revenge on their minds, and magical communications sent a great many (perhaps two-thirds) of the surviving warriors and wizards marching to the wondrous western mountains known as the Pillars of Asur, where that grand old kabir’s great temple stood. They gathered in the foothills and swore oaths and forged weapons and summoned demons, and then started up those slopes to topple their ancestor-god’s house of worship.

They did not get far, though, before the old god himself did appear and whisper a single curse. The sun would be denied these elves for all eternity; it would become to them a hateful thing of pain, burning eyes and flesh, an eternal reminder of their fall from grace and final punishment. These elves turned and fled from their god and the sun, which burned their skin black, and hid themselves in dark places under the earth, and would come to be known in future centuries as the drow. They would eventually have their revenge on the dwarves, though, as they excited the fires that burned beneath the Golden Mountains and gathered the foul goblin folk who dwelled near them and finally freed the last of the elder things that were chained therein. As hundreds of volcanoes exploded simultaneously, the skies were blackened and the holds of the dwarves were cracked and destroyed. The goblins swarmed these strongholds and the dwarves were forced to flee. The Golden Mountains had become the Bleeding Mountains, so named for the red rivers of lava that now flowed there and for the copious amounts of dwarf blood spilled by the goblins. The dwarven diaspora had begun.

THE MAJOR KABIR

ASUR: Kabir of the Sun; ruler of The Noble Procession (the aristocratic and beautiful, chivalrous and vain fey, especially the ancient elves and even the rebellious drow who are their closest relatives)

BEL: Kabir of death and rebirth; rules the Mourners (fey concerned with the dead, such as banshees)

GHOBB: Kabir of geology; rules the Keepers of Kitchen and Pantry (the household fairies, as well as the useful folk of the fairy world such as leprechauns and brownies)

KARN: Kabir of the hunt; rules the Bloody-Minded Lot (mean-spirited killers and torturers, such as red caps and trolls)

NUDD: Kabir of the oceans, the “ancient mariner”, who went to sea and never again set foot on land; he might be said to rule the fey of the water, though he shows little interest in doing so and generally leaves them to their own devices

TUT: Kabir of mischief; rules the Merrie-Met (tricksters, dancers, and makers of mischief like satyrs and sprites)

YS: Kabir of fertility; rules the Painters of Flowers and Dapplers of Dew (the fey that make the world go ‘round, the nature-workers of Nod such as the flower fairies, nymphs and dryads, as well as the storm giants – though nobody really rules those folks)

THE MAJOR IGIGI

ALAD: Igigi of Benevolence (NG)

AZAG: Igigi of Morbidity (NE)

AZUR: Igigi of Virtue (LG); After Azur’s destruction by Zid during its crusade in the Material Plane against evil, when it stretched itself too thin and made itself vulnerable, Azur was shattered into seven archangels (solars), generally known as the Seven Virtues.

GUZU: Igigi of Rage (CE)

NIM: Igigi of Love (CG)

SUUL: Igigi of Madness (CN)

ZID: Igigi of Logic (LN)

History of Nod, Part I

It’s good to be the God of Nod …

There have been requests, so here it is. It will also appear in the NOD Companion (coming soon … I swear!) I have generally hesitated to get too much into this, since, in my opinion, this is just stuff from my personal campaign. I’d like others to feel free to concoct their own history of NOD if they use it in a campaign. Still, some folks like to get the “official” word on a campaign setting, so I guess this is it.

We begin with the Primordial History of NOD

I first conceived of NOD as a campaign setting about 5 years ago. It had two key sources of inspiration. The first was a map that depicted what some folks believed would be the layout of the continents on Earth millions of years from now. Is NOD meant to be the future of Earth? No. Just liked the map.

The second bit of inspiration came from the fiction of Dunsany and Lovecraft, specifically the Dreamlands. Having grown up on more Tolkienesque fantasy, they were both a revelation and a welcome “shot in the arm” to my imagination. I had created worlds that were little more than fantasy versions of the CIA’s factbook – collections of make-believe countries (mostly based on real world countries) and currencies and languages, etc. Tons of background that would rarely come up when a motley band of tomb robbers, religious zealots, scoundrels and necromancers were descending into the unlit depths of the world in search of fame, fortune and experience points.

NOD, therefore, would be a dream world, one conjured by the dreams, fantasies and mythologies of everyone who ever lived (but mostly dreams, fantasies and mythologies that I made up myself, or that were in the public domain – after all, I live in the real world and don’t fancy getting hit with a lawsuit!)

NOD is composed of dreams. In that regard, it has no geological or cosmological history. It wasn’t, and then it was, and slowly, it got itself crammed with all sorts of fantasy nonsense to entertain and annoy people who like to play fantasy games.

The LAND OF NOD once floated in a great sea of undiluted Chaos. Beset by demons and their ilk, and other things born in nightmares, those organisms that tried to eke out a life on the little planet had a tough time of it. Fortunately, what exists in the Material World has a soul in the Ethereal Plane. Like souls tend to flock together in great eddies in the Ethereal Plane, and these collections of souls, united by common purpose, gain a sort of divine sentience. It was thus that Ka, the first deity, was born.

Ka was composed of the souls or spirits of everything alive, and in fact still is. In those primordial days, though, Ka was mostly composed of the spirits of simple organisms and beasts (as they outnumbered sentient beings by a significant margin), and thus embodied (so to speak) the desire to survive.

Seeing its subjects beset by the creatures of Chaos, Ka injected bits of itself into the Material Plane – like sticking one’s fingers into the bowl of jelly. These protrusions of Ka took material form in the Material Plane, and they are called the Kabir. The Kabir might be considered the first of the fey, though in game terms they would be considered outsiders. Their shapes were variable, but primarily humanoid, for humans, the most advanced animals on NOD, gave them the benefit of their own advanced minds.

The Kabir went to war with the demons and other chaos creatures. In this war, they created soldiers from the stock of creatures already living on NOD, and in this way gave birth to the fey, the giants and the dragons. In time, they achieved a sort of victory, and life flourished on NOD. In time, Ka was shattered, or at least smaller eddies formed within Ka. These were the animal lords, each a collection of animal souls united by the drives of their component species, and more alignment-oriented entities, composed of the souls of sentient beings based on their own dedication to philosophical concepts like Law, Chaos, Good and Evil. These entities could also project pieces of themselves into the Material Plane, appearing not only as the planets that orbit around NOD, but also as the various outsiders (devils, angels, etc.) that plague and aid humans and demi-humans.

The structure of the Nodian cosmos was the product of ZID, the “god” of Reason and the Need for Order and Organization, through the workings of the polyhedroids, who are its manifestations in the Material Plane. They derived the crystal spheres that guide the movement of the planets and constructed from raw chaos the Firmament, which holds the undiluted chaos of the cosmos at bay, the churning of this chaos serving as the motivating force that keeps the Nodian cosmos in motion.

The Kabir eventually retired from the Material Plane to the pocket dimension of Fairyland, leaving their fey children behind to serve as nature’s agents on NOD. Since NOD has no innate physical laws to govern it, all that happens in NOD must happen through an intelligent agent. The polyhedroids are in charge of the big things, like gravity and the conservation of matter and energy, while the natural flourishes like the seasons are overseen by the various fey courts.

Next up … a brief history of the elves and gnomes

The Gods of the Future! [Quickie]

Found a few images today that serve well as gods of the future that might travel back to hassle pseudo-medieval adventurers …

God of Telephonics

and thus also god of telemarketers and family

His priests wear rotary dials as amulets and wear armor woven from copper wire (equivalent to chainmail), and are capable of casting message by sacrificing a silver piece.

Goddess of Automobiles

and thus also goddess of freedom, getting laid and blood on the asphalt

Her priests wear gloves, buff coats and goggles over their armor, and the men are expected to cultivate glorious full mustaches; they bear the holy spoked wheel on their round shields and can cast stinking cloud once per day

Goddess of Aeroplanes

and thus also goddess of travel, air sickness and tiny bags of peanuts

Her priests and priestesses wear golden wing pins on their blue tunics and can cast fly once per day, but must be sitting in a cart or wagon to do so – they spell effects the cart rather than the priest or priestess; in addition, the priestesses can cast create peanuts and coffee or tea (a variation of create food and water) once per day, but only while in flight

The first image is from Love Truth Beauty

Law vs. Chaos, the William Blake Way

The internet is wonderful for stream of consciousness discovery. Last night, I was writing a bit about orcs for Blood & Treasure – specifically creating a table of military units – and in the process found a reference to the very interesting mythology created by William Blake in the last decades of the 18th century. Just like that, I had the perfect pantheon for Dweomer Bay, Nod’s nod to Colonial America.

If you don’t know about this little gem of creativity (I’m not going to pass judgment on is validity), I’ll do my best to present the basics, which, frankly, is all you really need for a fantasy RPG that has warrior-priests who mostly concern  themselves with exploring dungeons. If you’re looking for a stand-in for Christianity, it should work rather well.

In essence, Blake’s mythology would be one in which Chaos (or Chaotic Good, in 9-fold alignment terms) is “good”, and Law (or Lawful Neutral) is “not good”. It has a central figure, the giant/man/land of Albion, who is divided into four Zoas:

Tharmas: Tharmas is the primordial man, who represents instinct and strength. If I had to choose an alignment, I’d go Neutral.

Urizen: Urizen is reason and tradition; a cruel god of Law. Probably Lawful Neutral. He was the primeval priest, who separated from the other Eternals to build his own alienating and enslaving realm of religious dogma – a fallen universe – in which Los and Enitharmon enter to give birth to their son, Luvah/Orc, the spirit of revolution and freedom.

Luvah (Orc): Luvah represents love, passion and emotive faculties. He is known as Orc in his most amorous and rebellious form. Luvah is probably Chaotic Neutral. He is the embodiment of the American Colonies, which Blake apparently imagined would be a new utopia. Orc provokes the Angel of Boston to rebellion against the Angel of Albion, who considers Orc the anti-Christ. Orc considers the Angel of Albion to be the anti-Christ.

Urthona (Los): Urthona is also known as Los, and represents inspiration and imagination. This guy is Chaotic Good. He is commonly depicted with a hammer, and is the father of Luvah/Orc. Urthona is the redeemer of the fallen universe created by the rebel Urizen. Los himself fell and took on human form, and then went to work binding Urizen to a human form, a “Human illusion, in darkness and deep clouds involvd”.

Urthona (Los), Enitharmon and Luvah (Orc)

Each of these four Zoas has a feminine “emanation”:

Enion: Enion is maternal, and is paired with Tharmas.

Ahania: Ahania is celestial, and is paired with Urizen. She is discarded by Urizen.

Vala: Vala is seductive and shadowy, and is paired with Lovah/Orc. Her daughters are death and love human sacrifice, and must be confronted and defeated by Jerusalem to bring the Zoas back together as a single divine body.

Enitharmon: Enitharmon is musical, and is paired with Urthona/Los.

There are other “divinities” as well:

Rintrah represents “revolutionary wrath” (the fact that the American Revolution has an impact on Blake’s mythology makes it perfect for Dweomer Bay). His brothers are Palamabron (pity), Bromion (scientific thought – also the passionate man) and Theotormon (desire/jealousy – also the chaste man). They are the sons of Los. Bromion is loud and lustful, and eventually rapes Oothoon (the soft spirit of America, or female sexuality), symbolizing an America trapped by the the science of Newton and the philosophy of Locke.

Bromion, Oothoon and Theotormon

Urizen’s sons are Thiriel (Air), Utha (Water), Grodna (Earth) and Fuzon (Fire). Fuzon rebels against Urizen, attacking him with fire and then declaring himself God. This leads to Urizen accidentally creating the tree of mystery and nailing Fuzon’s body to it.

Los entering the grave

The Queens of Elemental Earth

This idea popped into my head today, so I explored it a bit.

The primal earth has produced many wonders, but none so lovely (and few so powerful) as the so-called Queens of Elemental Earth. These five sisters are worshipped as goddesses by many of the folk who dwell beneath the earth and are honored by all elemental earth creatures.

The queens look like astoundingly beautiful statues of women in their natural state. They are translucent and gleam with an inner light that produces a magical aura. Within their eyes dance shimmering motes of light that affect all upon which they train their gaze. They dwell in luxurious palaces beneath the ground, served by lesser elementals and fey creatures.

While the queens are ground in neutrality, with some preference for order (i.e. Law), they are, as one might expect, possessed of a very keen appreciation for the wonder that is them. They do not like to be disobeyed or their intentions and desires frustrated, and they have no qualms about destroying lesser creatures that get in their way.

All of the queens can move through rock, stone and soil as easily as a human moves through the air. They suffer half damage from all attacks from manufactured and natural weapons.

Adamantia
Adamantia is Queen Diamond. She has a smooth body of translucent crystal with inner reflections of pink. Adamantia is the strongest and most durable of the five sisters, and she is unforgiving in her disdain of imperfection and muddled thinking. She is always under the effect of a true seeing spell and a zone of truth. She is worshipped as a goddess of clarity, truth and perfection. Her stronghold is a fortress of gleaming adamant, with every surface stark white and lit by a soft, pinkish-white glow. Her court includes elemental earth creatures as well as entities of Law and a host of human paladins that have declared her the focus of their courtly, chaste love.

Adamantia produces an aura of truth (see zone of truth above) that also acts a protection aura against chaotic creatures (per protection from evil, 10-ft. radius). Her gaze acts as a hold monster spell.

Adamantia can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – charm person; 3/day – break enchantment, charm monster, cure disease, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – dimension door, ray of enfeeblement, strength, suggestion, wave of exhaustion. She can also cast spells as a 10th level cleric.

Adamantia: HD 21; AC -7 [26]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 30/7400; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, immune to fire, resistance to cold (50%), magic resistance (65%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Rubinia
Queen Ruby, Rubinia, is composed of a translucent red substance. Her hair (though it is merely sculpted on her head) appears wild and unkempt and her eyes gleam with power. She is worshipped as a goddess of fire and passion and strength. Her court includes elemental earth creatures as well as exiled or rebellious elemental fire creatures. Her stronghold is enclosed in a ruby sphere with spherical chambers that look like bubbles within the sphere and connected by curving tunnels that radiate out from her central court. Gravity is completely relative within the sphere, with people able to walk on all surfaces.

Rubinia produces an aura of weakness (10-ft. radius) that forces people to pass a saving throw or be affected per a ray of enfeeblement. Her gaze forces people to pass a saving throw or be enraged (per the emotion or rage spell, depending on which version of the grand old game you play). Enraged folk never turn their anger upon Rubinia or her servants. Her touch ages people as the touch of a ghost.

Rubinia can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – augury; 3/day – charm person, divination, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – dimension door, flame strike, heal, heat metal. She can also cast spells as a 10th level magic-user.

Rubinia: HD 21; AC -6 [25]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 30/7400; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, immune to fire, resistance to cold (50%), magic resistance (55%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Esmeraude
Esmeraude, Queen Emerald, is the most sensuous and beautiful of the sisters, possessed of a green, healthy glow and a warm, though unyielding, touch. Her stronghold is a paen to love and romance, being a series of limestone caverns with jade pools, rushing streams, laughing waterfalls and gardens of flowering trees, ferns and flowers. Her court consists of elemental earth creatures, nymphs and dryads.

Esmeraude radiates an aura of blinding beauty (per a nymph) and her gaze stuns creatures for 2d4 rounds. Her kiss can grant magic-user’s the effects of a mnemonic enhancement for 24 hours, but also imbues upon them a geas that they must visit her once per year and serve her faithfully for one week.

Esmeraude can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – cause blindness; 3/day – cure blindness, cause fear, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – charm monster, dimension door, entangle, plant growth, suggestion. She can also cast spells as a 12th level druid.

Esmeraude: HD 21; AC -5 [24]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 30/7400; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, resistance to cold and fire (50%), magic resistance (55%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Amethysta
Queen Amethyst appears as a woman of translucent purple crystal accompanied always by three legendary panthers with purple-black fur. She is a queen of dreams who commands a court of elemental earth creatures, succubi and illusionists. Her court is held in a palace of mottled purple walls set in a maze-like layout, with many secret chambers where visitors can rest themselves on comfortable beds stuffed with celestial goose down and sleep under silk and satin, perhaps never to wake again.

Amethysta produces a purple aura of slumber (as the daze spell) and her gaze causes confusion. Those struck by her, even lightly, must pass a saving throw or fall into a deep sleep. She can deliver a kiss that drains levels per a succubus.

Amethysta can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – sleep; 3/day – cause fear, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – dimension door, dream, nightmare, phantasmal killer, poison. She also casts spells as a 10th level illusionist.

Amethysta: HD 21; AC -5 [24]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 31/7700; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, resistance to cold and fire (50%), magic resistance (45%), regenerate 3 hp/round, life drain.

Zaffira
Zaffira is a bubbly, almost giddy queen of sapphires. She appears as a beautiful, young woman with translucent blue skin, her eyes like star sapphires and her hair tumbling like cascades of water down her back to her ankles. She dwells in a floating palace of sapphire walls and misty, damp halls occupied by elemental earth creatures as well as sylphs and other exiled air creatures and giant eagles. Zaffira is worshipped as a goddess of innocence, truth and courage.

Zaffira produces an aura of euphoria. Folk who enter it must pass a saving throw or be calmed, losing all desire to commit violence or even engage in argument. Her gaze causes people to break into uncontrollable laughter (per the spell).

Zaffira can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – hold person; 3/day – cause fear, discern lies, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – globe of invulnerability, mark of justice, ray of enfeeblement, resilient sphere, strength. She also casts spells as a 12th level cleric.

Zaffira: HD 21; AC -6 [25]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 23/5300; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, resistance to fire and cold (50%), magic resistance (65%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Image found HERE. Painted by Jean-Baptiste Regnault (1786).

NOD 9 PDF On Sale Now!

Five days into July, and the June issue of NOD is finally on sale. Currently, I have only the PDF up for sale – when I have a print copy in my hands for review I’ll put the print version up for sale as well. PDF price is $3.50. For this princely sum, you get:

Yun-Bai-Du – Fantasy city for the Mu-Pan setting introduced in NOD 8. Features some keen art by Jon Kaufman.

Altered States of America – Campaign Sketchbook article describing a Napoleonic fantasy campaign set in a North America of warring states.

The Titans’ Door – A Pars Fortuna adventure for low level characters that takes place in a massive stone door and challenges the party to enter through the keyhole and unlock the door. Features an illustration by Kelvin Green.

Washed Out in Washoe – A Mystery Men! adventure for super human heroes; The Black Dragon is holding Silverado City ransom – can the heroes stop him from wiping it off the face of the Earth?

Plus magic coins and portals, the Jack-of-All-Trades class and another installment of Phantastes. 60 pages. Click HERE to purchase.

Some Holiday Magic for the Season

Here’s a little preview of an article appearing in NOD #6 (any time now – almost there).

Bag of Goodies
The bag of goodies works in much the same manner as a bag of tricks, save instead of producing small animals (other than kittens and puppies), it produces small, simple toys. The prospective recipient of a gift must reach into the bag while making a wish, pulling out either a small toy made of wood or tin or, if they are chaotic or evil, a lump of coal. Wishes for swords will produce wooden swords, which can be used as clubs in combat. The bag operates once per year per person.

Chimney Charm (Spell, MU Level 2)
By touching one’s finger to one’s nose (but not placing it inside – different charm), they ascend through any chimney-like tube or hole, regardless of size and unharmed no matter what other material (smoke, water, acid) might be coursing through said concourse.

Dreidel of Fortune
This clay top can only be made by a lawful cleric of at least 3rd level. The dreidel is inscribed with the glyphs that mean “Nothing”, “Half”, “All” and “Put In”. When a gold piece is offered (it disappears when the top is spun) and the top is spun while chanting a charming ditty, the dreidel has the following effects (roll 1d4):

1. Nothing – Nothing happens to the spinner
2. Half – All spells and powers used by the spinner work at 50% efficacy for the next 24 hours
3. All – All spells and powers used by the spinner work at double efficacy for the next 24 hours
4. Put In – The spinner loses 1d6 x 100 XP to the top

And a petty god for the season …

Saint Nick (Demigod)
Saint Nick is the fey demigod of just desserts. He appears as a jolly gnome, dwarf or human (as he chooses) with white hair, a long white mustache and beard, a large, red nose and twinkling eyes, dressed in red robes and wearing a pointed red cap. Saint Nick carries a large, green bag from which he can pull any desire of a good creature who petitions him with a sacrifice of milk and cookies (per limited wish), but for wicked creatures he instead pulls out a large whipping stick and beats them to within an inch of their life (i.e. 1 hit point). Saint Nick is as strong as a frost giant and as nimble as a sprite. He can use the following spells at will: Animal Summoning (8 reindeer), Charm Monster, Chimney Charm, Detect Evil, ESP, Know Alignment, Magic Snow Ball and Uncontrollable Laughter.

Saint Nick’s clerics dress like their patron, with red robes over their armor and a whipping stick at the ready. They can learn the spells Chimney Charm and Magic Snow Ball when they learn to cast cleric spells of the equivalent level. Saint Nick’s clerics must pass on 50% of all treasure they collect to the poor and needy. At 9th level, they build fortified orphanages and hospices, conducting waifs and the sick from cities via caravan to their palaces of generosity.

The Gods of the Motherlands – Part Three

Mithras
Michael
Lawful god of valor, honor, chivalry and soldiers
Wields a lance
Served by angels
Symbolized by a bull or cross
Mithras’ clerics enjoy a +1 bonus to hit and damage the undead

Mithras is a demigod associated with Minerva. His cult originated with the dervishes, who cast him as the prophesied slayer of Tiamat. Mithras is a patron of chivalry and is worshiped by soldiers and the nobility.

Mithras is depicted as a handsome young warrior wearing a Phyrigian cap and a crimson cape. His temples, called mithraeum, are constructed in caves and kept secret, for his is a mystery cult that is spread from initiate to initiate. A place of honor in his temples is reserved for an idol of the god slaying a bull, a serpent and dog drinking from the animal’s bleeding wound. Other symbols that may appear with the idol are a goblet, small lion, raven and scorpion. Twin celestial torchbearers stand on either side of the idol with their legs crossed. Above Mithras, the symbols for Sol Invictus and Luna are present in the starry night sky. New initiates to the cult are brought to such a temple where a mystagogue explains the symbolism and theology. A rite is then performed to re-enact the Water Miracle, in which a bolt is fired into a rock, causing water to spout from it.

The Mithras cult has seven ranks, which are in order: Raven, Bridegroom, Soldier, Lion, Perseus, Sun-Courier and Father.

Mithras is celebrated September 29.

Neptunus
Nethuns, Poseidon
Neutral god of the sea, storms and earthquakes
Wields a trident
Patron deity of Dominions
Served by fey, water elementals
Symbolized by a trident or dolphin
Sacred animals are the dolphin, horse and bull
Neptunus’ druids can cast Water Breathing as a 2nd level spell

Neptunus is the god of the seas, oceans, rivers, lakes, and earthquakes. He has the power to create new life forms and is the creator of bulls and horses. He can also summon and control non-divine forms of sea life and change his own shape into that of any living being at will. In his true form, he is a man standing a hundred feet tall holding a trident and wearing a crown.

Neptunus is capable of raising islands up from the sea or shattering them with earthquakes. He can bring fair weather to sailors or strike them with a terrible storm, necessitating sacrifices in the form of drowning horses.

Neptunus is the son of Saturnus and Rhea, and the brother of Jove, Juno, Pluto and Vesta. His consort is Amphitrite. He has fathered many heroes, including Theseus and Orion. He is the father of Arion the talking horse by Ceres and the father of Pegasus by Medusa. Other monstrous children are the tritons, mermaids, cyclops and giants.

Neptunalia (July 23-24): Games are held during this festival, including a knightly tournament and boat races. People erect colorful pavilions and use them for feasting and entertaining friends.

Pluto
Aidoneus, Dispater, Hades, the Silent One
Neutral god of the underworld and its treasures
Wields a mace
Served by earth elementals and the undead
Symbolized by a ram’s head
Sacred animals are the ram, raven and serpent
Pluto’s druids can rebuke undead as a cleric 3 levels lower

Pluto is the King of the Underworld and lord over all it contains, from the souls of the dead to the precious metals and gems locked inside it. Pluto is also the god of wine under the name Dionysus Cthonios. He also has a measure of control over the creatures that dwell underground, especially the treasure hording dragons. Although not evil, Pluto is grim and morbid, and thus not popular among gods or mortals. In fact, mortals fear him enough that they rarely utter his name, lest they draw his attention. Although Pluto rules the Underworld, he is not death itself. That entity is called Thanatos.

Pluto’s kingdom is called Erebus and contains such places as the Asphodel Meadows, Elysium and Tarterus, the abode of the Titans and devils. The five rivers of Erebus are Acheron (Woe), Cocytus (Lamentation), Phlegethon (Fire), Lethe (Oblivion) and Styx (Hate).

Pluto is the brother of Neptunus and Jove, and with them defeated the Titans and claimed rulership over the cosmos. His wife is Persephone, daughter of Ceres.

Secular Games (May 31 – June 3): Every hundred years (a saeculum) the Secular Games are held in Pluto’s honor. The games include all manner of athletic endeavors, with nightly sacrifices of lambs, she-goats, bulls, sacrificial cakes, cows and sows.

Prometheus
Theuth
Lawful god of learning, writing and magic
Wields a staff
Patron deity of Ibis (as Thoth)
Served by elohim
Symbolized by a quill or book
Prometheus’ clerics can learn one 1st level magic-user spell at each odd level, and cast them in place of cleric spells

Prometheus is the god of magic, philosophy, science and learning. He is the patron of scholars, illusionists, scientists, wizards and potters (since he created man from clay). Prometheus’ temples are gathering places for philosophers and scholars to debate and learn; they are often connected to universities and colleges. Promethean clerics are dedicated to the protection of their deity’s worshipers, and the enlightenment of human and demi-humankind.

Prometheus is the brother of Epimetheus (“Afterthought”), Atlas (“Enduring”) and Menoetius (“Ruined Strength”). His parents are the titans Japetus and Clymene. Prometheus’ gift of fire to mortals earned him the enmity of Jove, who had him bound to a rock while an eagle ate his liver every day, only for it to grow back. Prometheus was eventually freed by Hercules.

Venus
Aphrodite, Astarte, Turan
Lawful goddess of love and beauty
Wields a mace
Patron deity of Ishkabibel
Served by elohim and nymphs
Symbolized by a mirror or crown
Venus’ clerics enjoy a +1 bonus to reaction checks

Venus is the goddess of beauty, love and gardens. As befits her position, she is an enthusiastic companion of the male gods. She is married to Vulcanus, but this did not stop her from consorting with Mars, Neptunus, Pluto and others. Venus can charm any male, god or mortal, and can generate strong emotions (love, hate, anger, sorrow, etc.) in any intelligent being. The myrtle, dove, sparrow and swan are sacred to her.

Although she can assume any form (all of them beautiful), in her true form she is a woman of astonishing beauty with golden hair. She also has a more martial aspect, sometimes appearing armored and carrying a mace.

Venus was created when Cronus castrated his father, Saturnus, and cast his testicles into the sea. She is married to Vulcanus, but has had notable affairs with Mars, Mercurius, Pluto and Adonis. Her children include Cupid, Phobos, Deimos, Harmonia and Fortuna.

May Day (May 1): The day is celebrated by the gathering of herbs and wild water (from which holy water is made), the blessing of houses, ‘beating the bounds’, greenwood marriages, and dancing around May Poles.

Volcanus
Hephaestos, Mulciber, Weyland
Neutral god of fire, volcanos, smiths and invention
Wields a battle axe
Patron deity of Galardis
Served by fire elementals
Symbolized by a hammer and anvil
Druid totems are the bull, boar and serpent
Volcanus’ druids enjoy a +1 bonus to save vs. fire and heat

Volcanus is the god of fire, earth, and the forge. He is the smith of the gods, creating their weapons, armor and thrones. Volcanus is also a patron of engineers and an expert trap maker. Temples of Volcanus are decorated with precious stones and metals and are usually supported by the local guild of smiths.

Volcanus is depicted as a dour, ugly man with a twisted leg. He carries the tools of a smith and his skin is blackened from soot and exposure to fire.

Volcanus is the son of Juno, created by her alone as Jove created Minerva. Hurled from heaven for his ugliness, he was found by the sea nymph Thetis and raised as her son. His wife is Venus, though they are estranged due to her indiscretions. He is the creator of Pandora from clay and the father of Periphetes, the demi-god of bandits.

Vulcanalia (August 23): Bonfires are created in honor of the god. The bonfires are used to roast fish and small animals and a red bull-calf and a red boar are sacrificed at the god’s temple to ward away destructive fires.

The Gods of the Motherlands – Part Two

Continuing the Gods of the Motherlands with Hercules through Minerva.

Also – For those that purchased an electronic copy of NOD #4, I have attached the missing cover. You should be able to download it again with the cover – if not, let me know and I’ll send it to you as a PDF.

Hercules
Donar, Heracles
Lawful god of strength, adventure, heroism and rebirth
Wields a club
Patron deity of Guelph
Served by elohim and cherubim
Symbolized by a lion
Clerics can cast the magic-user spell Strength

Hercules is strength personified. While still an infant, he strangled two huge snakes with his bare hands. Hercules is a fearless adventurer whose many escapades are the stuff of legend. A robust, cheerful man, he has an appetite for food and women that almost equals that of his father.

Hercules appears as a stout man with a long beard, usually wearing a lion’s skin or leather armor, brandishing a large, wooden club. Hercules is the son of Jove by the mortal woman Alcmene. Being born by Jove from an extra-marital tryst has earned Hercules the enmity of Juno, protector of marriage and sister-wife of Jove.

Hercules is best known for his Twelve Labors, quests he had to complete to atone for killing his own children when he was driven insane by vengeful Juno. The labors included killing a giant lion, hydra, giant deer, giant boar, cleaning stables, killing the Stymphalian birds (giant cranes with metal beaks), capturing a giant bull, rounding up carnivorous horses, stealing the girdle of Hippolyte, queen of the amazons, herding the cattle of Geryon, fetching the Apples of Hesperides and capturing Cerberus, guard dog of Hades. Because many of these labors included slaying giant beasts, Hercules is often taken as a patron by rangers.

Grande Tourney (July 22 – August 7): During the Hercules’ tournament, people compete at various athletic and musical contests. Brass tripods are awarded to the victors.

Jove
God, Jupiter, Zeus
Lawful god of the upper sky and royalty
Wields a lightning bolt
Patron deity of Nomo
Served by angels and air elementals
Symbolized by a lightning bolt
Clerics can cast the magic-user spell Lightning Bolt as a 5th level spell, dealing damage as though 2 levels lower.

Jove is the king of the gods, though his command over them is far from absolute and his decisions are often challenged. Jove is the god of the sky, the ruler of all high things, including the clouds, rain, wind, thunder, and mountain summits. He is the protector of laws, friend of the weak, and dispenser of justice. Jove is also worshiped as Father Oak, or the Green Man, the masculine force of procreation.

Although Jove can take any form he wishes, he often assumes the form of a powerful, bearded man with regal bearing when he visits the mortal world. His true form is that of a ball of fiery light so intense that no mortal can look upon him without bursting into flames.

Jove is the husband of Juno, queen of the gods. He is the father of Minerva, Apollo Helios and Hercules. His brothers are Neptunus, ruler of the oceans, and Plutus, ruler of the Underworld. Jove’s father was Saturn, king of the titans.

Gulestide (December 22-28): Gulestide is not only a time of feasting and merriment, but also a time when the world is turned upside down; masters and slaves, teachers and students and nobles and peasants switch places for a time, with the proceedings led by an elected Lord of Misrule.

Juno Regina
Hera, Saturnia
Lawful goddess of women, marriage and cattle
Wields a spear
Served by angels and erinyes
Symbolized by the cow, peacock or pomegranate
Clerics of Juno can, at 5th level, summon an erinyes once per month to punish an oath breaker

Juno is the goddess who protects women and the sanctity of marriage. She is known for her vengeful nature, especially toward the paramours of her husband Jove. She is the queen of the gods, often depicted enthroned and wearing a diadem and veil. Poets usually describe her as cow-eyed, indicating large, beautiful eyes.

Offerings to Juno take the form of pomegranates and poppy seeds, or ivory ornaments in the shape of pomegranates and poppy seeds.

Juno is the wife and elder sister of Jove and the daughter of Rhea and Saturnus. Her children by Jove are Mars, Juventas, Discordia and Ilithyia, goddess of childbirth. She reputedly created Vulcan without the aid of her husband in response to his creation of Minerva.

Matronalia (June 1): On this day, women perform rites in the temple of Juno. They are permitted to wear their hair down and not permitted to wear belts or any knots in their clothing. Husbands are expected to say prayer for their wives and children give presents to their mothers.

Mars
Ares, Camulus
Chaotic god of war
Wields a spear
Patron deity of Azsor
Served by demons
Symbolized by a spear and shield
Clerics of Mars are permitted the use of swords, though they must be cleaned of blood after use and anointed with expensive oils (worth 10 gp with each use)

Mars is the god of blood lust and slaughter. He is fond of strife, anger, and unrestrained blood-letting. As such, he is not a very popular god and is only worshiped by a large numbers of people in the city-states of Guelph and Nomo. Vultures and dogs are sacred to him.

Mars usually appears as a large man with burning, hateful eyes and a permanent scowl etched across his mouth. He wears ornate platemail armor and carries a flaming sword.

Mars is the son of Jove and Juno, the husband of Bellona and the lover of Venus. He is attended by Deimos (terror) and Phobos (fear) in battle, his sons by Venus, and by Adrestia, his daughter by his sister Discordia. Other members of his retinue are Nike, the deathless spirit of victory, Kydoimos, the demon of the din of battle, the Makhai (battles), the Hysminai (man-slaughters) and Alala, personification of the war cry. Mars’ other children by Venus are Cupid and Harmonia.

Armilustrium (November 12): On this day weapons of the army are purified and stored for the winter. The army is assembled and reviewed and garlanded with flowers. Trumpets blare and citizens gathered with their arms and armor take part in a procession with torches and sacrificial animals. Young noblemen dressed as ancient warriors with red capes take part in ritual dances.

Mercurius
Hermes, Lugus, Psychopompos
Lawful god of trade, gambling, thieves
Wields a club
Patron deity of Blackpoort
Served by elohim
Symbolized by a cadeuceus, tortoise, cock or winged sandals
Clerics can cast the magic-user spell Charm Person

Mercurius is the god of travelers, merchants, thieves, gamblers, athletes and eloquent speech. He also serves the gods as a messenger and an arbitrator of disputes. As a god of travelers and a slayer of giants (Argos, in particular), some rangers choose to worship Mercurius as their patron.

Mercurius is depicted as a handsome, athletic youth wearing a broad-brimmed traveler’s hat and carrying a white caduceus (winged rod entwined by two serpents).

Mercurius is the son of Jove and Maia, a daughter of Atlas. His children include Faunus, the god of satyrs, Hermaphroditus, a man merged with the nymph Salmacis, Fortuna, goddess of fortune, and Autolycus, prince of thieves and grandfather of Ulysses.

Shrovetide (April 1): Merchants sprinkle their heads, ships, wagons and merchandise with holy water. Shrovetide is a day of raucous celebrations with a carnival atmosphere.

Minerva
Athena
Lawful goddess of wisdom, crafts, strategy and war
Wields a long sword
Patron deity of Gwenth
Served by angels
Symbolized by an owl
Clerics can cast the magic-user spell Shield (see below)

Minerva is Jove’s favorite daughter and the virgin goddess of strategy, architecture, sculpture, spinning, weaving, horses, ox olives, prudence, and wise counsel. Though she is a warrior goddess, she is no less skilled in the arts of peace, inventing the potter’s wheel, teaching men to tame horses and helping them to build great ships. Minerva is also a patron of chivalry and knighthood.

Minerva is depicted as a statuesque woman of great beauty attended by an owl. She wears the Aegis, a breastplate of goatskin with serpent fringes, a shield that bears a gorgon face, and a helm decorated with a winged lion.

Minerva was created by Jove without a mother, and as a virgin has no offspring of her own. She is often accompanied by Nike, the goddess of victory. She has aided many heroes, including Ulysses, Jason and Hercules.

Candlemas (February 1): The highlight of the day are candle-lit processions and rites of purification. It is especially an artisan’s holiday. Women consult fortune tellers on this day, plays are exhibited, and contests for orators and poets are held.