Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wastes of the West Pt 2: Major Religions of the Wastes

What is a good place to begin an exploration of a new world?  I would argue a good place is with the fundamental beliefs of its people.  Yes, I know it is terribly Platonic of me, to begin with high concepts, but bear with me.  A few of these religions are not totally original but I have delivered my own twist on any real world or fictional religion that appears here.

Daevanism:

Daevanists believe in one God, who they call Daeva or Eli Daeva.  Daeva might be translated "god," "celestial," or "angel."  Capitalized Daeva usually refers to Eli Daeva which is best translated "Supreme God," "First Celestial," or "Lord Angel."

Daevanists are monotheists that believe in the existence of other divine beings but that none of them are to be worshiped but Eli Daeva.  Those celestials that are subservient to God are called daeva or angels.  Those that defy God and demand worship from mortals are called baala or devils.

Daevanist belief stresses the insurmountable distance between God and Man.  They believe that Man is incapable of grasping even a fraction of the mind of God.  God must come to them through the daeva, who reveal the divine will through their chosen prophets and priests.

There is only one place where one might truly stand in the presence of God.  This place is the Temple, that cyclopean megastructure deep in the desert.  There, in the Holy of Holies, may one who is ritually clean stand in the very presence of God.  It is here that each new acolyte comes to be inducted into the Priesthood.  They beg the Almighty to try their very souls to determine their worthiness.  Those that can face the terrible truth of their cosmic insignificance without immediately going permanently insane are attended by a daeva that gives them their holy powers.

Daevanist priests will prefer spells that have to do with divination and knowledge as they are continually trying to come to understanding the will of God without ever becoming certain of any understanding, but it heavily depends on the kind of daeva that attends them.

The Cult of Set:

The cabal of necromancer-priests that worship the Overlord of the Outer Dark is the Cult of Set.  Set, may His Unending Darkness consume the world, gives his servants power for the continual sacrifice of mortal souls.  These cabalists are mostly concerned with their own ambition and terror of their dark master.  No ritual is too foul, no magic is too forbidden, no atrocity is too horrendous for a truly ambitious cultist.  They plot in secret to take control of whole empires and will not be satisfied until there is no light they cannot extinguish.

These cultists ultimately believe in the absolute domination of the weak by the strong.  They believe that there is no real truth and that even their Overlord is just the largest fish in our part of the cosmic sea.  They believe that there is no meaning in life but that which the strong create.  Their rituals make a mockery of innocence with utter defilement.  The greatest ambition which all the cultists share is to eventually become a god and replace Set.

Cultists of Set work primarily with necromancy and mind control magic, in their effort to dominate all life.

The Ayla Sae Sisterhood:

This mysterious sisterhood of sorceresses is bound together by a common religious code that dictates, "Man must evolve to survive!"  They try to place themselves in places of power to be able to drive along man's development.  They commonly place themselves at the head of various pagan cults and find demonic remnant of the old worlds and use them as livings gods for people to worship.

They are pragmatic and devious in pursuing his beliefs and can be found whispering into the ears of powerful figures everywhere if not just replacing them. They are distrusting of male leadership and often consider men to be primitive is not just utterly inferior.

Mind control magic and healing magic are the kind of magics that the Prophetesses of the Sisterhood.

Kekism:

The Cult of Kek is the brotherhood of Jester Preachers that openly mock overly restrictive or chaotic institutions in service of their smirking Frog God, Kek.  The Preachers believe that Kek is a god of darkness that will bring the light.  They bring about chaos so that a brighter tomorrow can come.  The brothers often look insane and stand on street corners to tell jokes at the expense of any number of institutions and paint graffiti on walls and in alleys. They don't much like the Daevanists, or the Cult of Set, and they really don't like the Ayla Sae Sisterhood.

They use magic that makes them more like their slimy green master and that helps them mock the decaying institutions of this world.  They claim that they all hail from Kekistan, no matter where they actually came from.  They await the coming of the God Emperor that will destroy the Ayla Sae and bring about an Age of Greatness.  Praise Kek!  Kek wills it!


Many other small cults exist around the Wastes but these are some of the major religious bodies that belong specifically to the Wastes.  Other religions come from other worlds and PCs may bring characters with religions from their home Planes and even try to proselytize.  If they gain a significant following they might even begin to be mocked by the Jester Preachers of Kek or start being opposed by the Daevanists or attempted to be seduced by the Ayla Sae.

What other faiths in other settings might fit in the Wastes?  How do you think your favorite cleric characters would behave in such a situation?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Wastes of the West Pt 1: An Introduction

Let's be honest, the Graylands is not an original setting.  It was born out of a need for a quick generic setting that made use of the bits of setting already built into the core DCC rulebook.  One of the most interesting parts of the setting for me, the take on alignments, came out of a need to make sense of what were odd alignment rules in DCC.  Graylands is great and a lot of the concepts that were born out of necessity are pretty awesome and I intend to carry them over to other works, but it just isn't an original setting.

I'm going to continue making content for the Graylands because I still have a game going there but I also want to start work on another setting that I thought of a while ago that I would like to bring to life here.

Enter the Wastes of the West.



"What are you here for?"  Asked the musician between sips of his ale.  

I looked up from by sludgy drink and shrugged.  "Adventure."

He looked out at me with obsidian eyes beneath his wide leather hat, "There are better places to die than this and often dying is a privilege reserved for the lucky.  Looking for adventure here is like diving into a raging sea for a gulp of water.  I see what you're thinking.  You think it won't be that bad.  You think you've been through some adventures before so this shouldn't be too hard."

He absently strummed a few notes on his guitar. "Out here, the only constant is the endless dunes.  Out here you get to burn all day beneath the tyrant suns and freeze all night beneath the changing moons.  You'll never really know solid ground and even the sky will change on you.  You will never be safe and likely you will never be able to go home.  Out here, the desert sneaks into you.  The alien moons change you.  You'll find before too long that you aren't even human anymore and that home is like a rapidly fading dream."

I looked at the bard and set my drink down.  "Should I leave?"

"Leave?  You ought to run.  You ought to leave here back for hearth and home as fast as your legs can carry you.  Run before the moons starts watching you from your dreams.  Run before the song of the desert winds become all that you crave.  Run before the sparkling expanse of the starlit dunes stains your eyes forever.  Run before the Wastes grab hold of your soul and you hate even the notion of getting free."

The Wastes of the West is an endless desert that links to many worlds.  The sky changes each day, showing suns and planets and moons of alien worlds.  Adventurers from any world may find themselves there and that makes the Wastes so diverse and so dangerous.  Civilizations have risen and fallen in the Wastes for such an extended period that the "natives" say, "There is no sand in the desert, only the dust of fallen empires."

The point of the Wastes is to take the adventurers away from the familiar and confront them with the weird.  This creates a space to confound your grizzled players with the bizarre.  It also offers an opportunity to blend science-fiction in fantasy in creative ways with the Wastes being a convergence of worlds.  I intend to make the Wastes a mixture of Conan the Barbarian, Dune, and Lovecraft with magical super-tech reminiscent of Wheel of Time.

What do you all think?  What system would you suggest I use for this setting?  I have run something similar to this with 5th ed but I want something really OSR that will be deadly with interesting but balanced magic-users and fun to play warriors.  I also prefer something rules-lite but that is negotiable.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Knights of the Divine Lady

It is said in the elder days when the gods ruled from Ma'at that Klazath ruled while the Seer Father dreamed.  Klazath was in charge of the glorious armies that drove back the formless shadows of Chaos as Choranus' dreams shaped the world, but Klazath's zealotry made life in Ma'at oppressive for its people.  Gorhan, his brother, pleaded with Klazath to let up in his driving of the men, but Klazath would do no such thing until every last ounce of foul Chaos was destroyed.  Gorhan was saddened.  He despaired at the soldiers' lives, fighting forever without purpose or rest.  He looked into the crystal pond that surrounded the sleeping Choranus and saw his own reflection.  Before his eyes, his image was transformed into the very picture of infinite beauty.  She was a woman like none he had seen but as he reached in to touch her, his hand pulled out a marvelous golden helm.  From then on Gorhan knew what must be done.



Somewhere out there, his Lady watched him.  Somewhere among the chaotic maelstrom was her fathomless beauty.  He gathered the dreamers, the poets, and the artists.  He named them his Knights of the Divine Lady.  So Gorhan and his knights-errant charged into the darkness, seeking his Lady above all else, cutting a great swath through the minions of evil.  Their quests were not so efficient as Klazath's crusade, but their magnificent bravery gave hope to all the people.  They learned to sing songs again, telling stories of their remarkable triumphs.  The crusaders of Klazath were strengthened by the hope the knights-errant created and so the grand Quest was begun.

The Knights of the Divine Lady are an order that persists to this day.  They quest for holy artifacts, slay mighty creatures, and seek beauty above all else.

Here is some inspiration:


At some point, the Knights of the Divine Lady came to especially hate the Fae.  It is said that a particularly beautiful Fae Lady convinced him that she was his Lady, and after he discovered her treachery, he declared eternal war on the Fae.

Any Lawful non-Wizard or Elf character may join the Knights but clerics may only cast the spell.

The Quest:

A knight-errant may at any time, declare that they are embarking on a Holy Quest.  The knight must declare what would constitute the Quest's completion.  The Quest must involve retrieving a holy artifact, destroying a specific monster, taking a specific place, or rescuing a person of good character in distress.  While on the Quest, a knight errant gains many powers that are detailed below.  A knight-errant may not regain these powers until he has completed his Quest.  Any knight that abandons a Quest loses access to all powers and spells from this Order until they are given absolution by another member of the Order.

What Matter Wounds?:

A knight in pursuit of a holy Quest gains a pool of d6s equal to double his level.  A knight-errant may use any number of these as an action to heal himself.  A knight that is affected by a spell that would put them below 1 HP may spend one of these dice to immediately nullify the damage.

Woe to the Wicked:

A knight-errant on a holy Quest gains a bonus to their attack roll and damage equal to their level against Chaotic characters.

Vengeance of the Helmed One:

A knight-errant gains +1d6 to all attacks, damage rolls, and saves when battling against Fae and cannot be affected by Fae Mind Control Spells.

Spell Casting:

A knight of this Order gains a Spell Casting bonus equal to their level.  Clerics cast these spells with their usual bonus. All casters take Disapproval as a cleric would.

Summon Steed:

Level 1     Range: N/A   Casting Time: 1   Action  Save: N/A

General: The caster reflects on his eternal quest and repeats whatever creed was used to swear them into the Order, causing a magic steed to arrive from realms unknown that will obey the caster.  A knight on a Quest gains a +2 to this check.

Manifestation: Roll 1d4: (1) The horse emerges through a shining portal, (2) The horse forms out of mist, (3) The horse gallops down from the sky, (4) The caster simply finds themselves atop the horse.

1-11: Failure
12-13: The steed is a superior example of his kind but is otherwise just a mundane horse.  The horse remains until dismissed.
14-17: The steed can never be exhausted and the rider gains +2 AC and immunity to Magic Missile whist on the steed.  The horse remains for a day.
18-23: The steed, in addition to all previous benefits, may run up impossible inclines without difficulty and leap great distances.  The horse remains for 1 day.
24-27:  The steed, in addition to all previous benefits, may walk on water and pass from plane into another.
28+  The steed, in addition to all previous benefits, may fly and the rider gains +4 AC and immunity to all offensive magic.  The horse remains for a day.