Friday, May 31, 2019

The Fire Cults

Although most of the world doesn't differentiate between the various Fire Cults, they are quite different from each other.  Even discussing them under the shared heading of "The Fire Cults" is misleading.

Just the same, the Fire Cults can be defined as the various local religions that existed on the continent of Centerra prior to the ascension of the Church.  They have been utterly extirpated since.

There are exceptions to all of these rules, but generally:

1. Fire Gods weren't especially focused on fire.

This is probably the greatest misconception.

It was the Church that first started calling them fire cults, which served to describe them as primitive and illegitimate.  The label stuck.

The prophecy has become somewhat self-fulfilled however, as the only living branch of the fire cults is the Vincular Cult, which can be considered an arm of Zala Vacha.

2. Fire cults were intensely local.

The forces that fire cults worshiped were usually bound to a particular location (or more rarely, a bloodline).

We might think of gods as having a particular portfolio (e.g. the God of Waterfalls and Assassins) but the Fire Gods were defined according to their location (e.g. the God of Poplonda Swamp).  Within this domain, they were everything.  Outside of it, they were nothing.

The god of a fire cult usually lived in its shrine.  They were as invisible and as intangible as any divine, but their shrine was their literal home.  They occupied a very specific space.

If you were travelling, it would be important to learn the names of the gods whose territory you would be crossing, and how best to placate them.  This was considered to be more important than actually learning the geography.

They usually shared a name with their location.  Many of the names on the map of Centerra are the names of dead gods.

It is sometimes necessary to differentiate between a location and the regional deity.  In this case, the convention is to terminate the deity's name with a capitol letter ('BosperO') while the location's name is written normally ('Bospero').  I won't do this to you (since the context is usually clear) with only one exception.

3. Many fire cults were associated with volcanos.

Volcanoes were common in Centerra at the time.  As their cults fell silent, so too did their volcanos.

The Church teaches that this is because volcanoes formed a conduit to Hell, and the fire gods were all demonic spirits of earth. 

4. The gods of fire cults were usually defined around a duality.

We are used to thinking of a God of War who exists in opposition to a God of Peace.  But the fire cults usually had only a single god that they prayed to, and so that god must be an entire pantheon unto itself.

And so there was Gadrium, God of War and Peace.

OmO, God of Wisdom and Foolishness.

Patra, God of Drowning and Birds.

Meltheria, God of Gold and Lead.

by Kalen Chock

The Quendian Cult

For most people, the Quindian Cult is synonymous with the Fire Cults.

They have two gods.

Quen is the God of Flame and Darkness.

Masaat is the God of Masters and Slaves.

There is something of a revolution occurring within Zala Vacha right now--Quen and Masaat are beginning to be worshiped as two aspects of the same god.  Since Darkness surrounds all Fire, Darkness is the Master of Fire, just as all things that are Learned will eventually be Forgotten.  This is an ongoing matter within the Cult, and the source of extreme friction.

Politically, Quen is an extreme proponent of the right to privacy.

The politics of Masaat are a bit more convoluted, but they boil down to the idea that the master-slave dynamic (or by extension, any position of power) is a divine privilege, with specific rules governing the formation, execution, and dissolution of dominance, of all forms.

As a result, the fire cult is known for their defiance of authority (even more than the other branches of Zala Vacha).  They see all forms of authority as illegitimate unless they willingly enter into such a relationship, and value their privacy and independence above all.  The Church is condemned as intrusive and domineering, while kings are seen as no different from gang leaders.

Fire Cult Cleric

This is how clerics work.  They all have different rules to follow (strictures), temples, and methods of divination.  These have various pros and cons.  For example, clerics of the Church have churches available to them at every town, no matter how small.  But clerics of Zala Vacha can build their own temporary temples by making bonfires, which is something that clerics of the Church cannot do.

Portfolio

learning, forgetting, sight, fire, privacy, secrets

Strictures

If you agree to keep a secret, then you must keep it.
Allow no one else to carry a torch unless you are also carrying a torch.
Do not betray those who serve you willingly.

Temples

By default, a city will have a temple hidden somewhere.  The faithful can find it by blinding a cat and then following it.  It will always be underground.

By default, a town will not contain a temple of Zala Vacha.

Alternatively, you can construct a temple in the wilderness by building five large bonfires.  The space between the bonfires counts as a temple for as long as the bonfires burn and there is no sun in the sky.  Collecting sufficient wood takes about 36 hours of labor in an average forest.  Logging tools allow a laborer to be twice as efficient.

Divination

You must sit in a perfectly dark room and gaze into the darkness for 1d6 hours.  Images will come.  The perfectly dark room must be underground.

Transfigurations

When clerics roll triples on a casting die, they gain something.

1 or 2 = Eyes turn black.  5' darkvision.
3 or 4 = Any light source you hold turns deep crimson.  Fire resist 6.
5 or 6 = Your skin turns black as soot.  If you hold perfectly still for at least 1 minute, you become shrouded.

Spells

Spells 1-6 are available at level 1.  Spells 1-8 are available at level 2.  Spells 1-10 are available at level 3.  Spells with asterisks are explained below.

  1. control fire
  2. darkness
  3. forget*
  4. heal
  5. bend light*
  6. lock
  7. shroud*
  8. suggestion
  9. freedom*
  10. room*


Legendary Spell 

Legendary spells are only obtained by doing some great quest in the service of your faith.

  1. disintegrate
Bend Light
R: touch  T: object  D: [dice] rounds
Object appears to be displaced a few feet to the left of where it appears to be.  Attacks against that object have a 50% chance to miss.  Creatures automatically make an Int check after each attack; if they succeed, they figure it out and this spell affects them no longer.

Alternatively, you can use this spell to see around corners.  Once per round, pick a place in your field of view--you can see as if you were standing there.  You can make multiple jumps this way if you are investing multiple dice.

Disintegrate
R: touch  T: object  D: instant
Touched object takes [sum] damage as it falls apart and dissolves.  If this is enough to destroy it, the object is utterly removed from reality.  
  • 1 MD is enough to disintegrate a skull or a wooden weapon.
  • 2 MD is enough to disintegrate a wooden door.
  • 3 MD is enough to disintegrate a metal weapon or bar.
Forget
R: touch  T: creature D: instant
Target forgets the last [dice] rounds.

Freedom
R: 50'  T: creature  D: instant
Creature immediately makes a free attempt to escape whatever bonds are restraining it with a +[sum] bonus.  If an creature would normally have no chance to escape (shackled, etc) it is still allowed an attempt anyway with a -10 penalty.

Room
R: touch  T: wall  D: 10 minutes
You create a door on the wall that leads to a 20' x 20' room.  This is actually a conjured pocket dimension that matches the rest of the dungeon thematically.  The door is just a regular door, and no stronger than wood (although it may appear different).  The room improves the more dice are invested.
  • 2 MD = lasts 30 minutes.  (Long enough to eat lunch.)
  • 3 MD = lasts 8 hours.  (Long enough to sleep.)
  • 4 MD = lasts 24 hours and contains a helpful occupant who matches the dungeon's theme.
Shroud
R: touch  T: object  D: 10 minutes  (splittable)
Target will not be noticed as long as they don't do anything suspicious.  An action is suspicious if it is something that is not regularly done by regular people.  

Walking past a guard is not suspicious because people regularly walk past guards.  Putting a grenado into a guard's pocket is suspicious (unless people regularly slip things into that guard's pocket.)


Sidebar: HD Limits

Remember that spells don't affect a creature if its HD is greater than [sum].

7 comments:

  1. Bend Light is my favourite, Room is highly interesting, does the same room always open each time?

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    Replies
    1. I'd think not, considering the theme is always changing, and if so, that's an large bag of holding you can't access all the time, so still interesting.

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    2. I kind of like the idea that it's a large bag of holding that's bound to the current dungeon or building.

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  2. Now I want to fight the Zala Vacha. Or be the Zala Vacha. That third transfiguration + large group of ZV clerics + statue filled room = ambush.

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  3. Walking past a checkpoint of secure facility would still be suspicious, yes?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nah, because people do regularly walk past a checkpoint of a secure facility. Basically, if it's something that multiple people do every week, you can do it.

      Delete