Ravnivori Empire, Part 2

SW_Fan_SmallWhile the core 4 gods probably covered everything needed in a pantheon, it didn’t seem like enough.  I don’t want to have too many, like the ridiculous pantheon of Forgotten Realms, for example.  But there were other ideas that I wanted to explore.  Here is the rest of the pantheon of the Ravnivori Empire –

As I’ve mentioned, I like the idea of divinity and I like the idea of a mortal somehow transcending and becoming a god themselves.  The Deities and Demigods books of each edition of D&D have always interested me, and I liked the Pantheons of the Megaverse book from Rifts, too.  They pretty much all had options for either playing a god or having a character achieve divinity.

So, it was easy to have that story for the most powerful mortal in the Ravnivori Empire, Ravnivorous himself –

Ravnivorous: Ravnivorous is a bit of an anomaly in the pantheon of the Empire in that there are historical records (as well as a handful of living people) that indicate that he was once mortal. Many people have reported experiencing miracles after praying to Ravnivorous, however, so many that no one bothers keeping track of them any more. Whether these miracles are caused by some ability created by the vast powers of Ravnivorous’ daemon or because of the Emperor has become truly divine is up to (muted) debate. In any case, the head of the Ravnivori Empire is worshipped just like any of the other gods, now. Ravnivorous personifies the Empire.

Ravnivorous’ portfolio is rather broad and many of his worshippers pray only to him or rather rarely to any of the other gods. Essentially, Ravnivorous holds sway over any activity or endeavor that will bring glory, strength and prosperity to the Empire. Thus, a supplicant might pray to Ravnivorous for success in anything from exploration to combat and even harvests.

Symbol: Ravnivorous symbol is the symbol of the Empire; the Eye of Ravnivorous. It consists of a humanoid eye inside of a triangle with the point down. This triangle is inset inside another triangle with the point up which is, itself set within a circle.

Trapping: Light.

Knowledge Skills: Empire, Law

Appearance: Ravnivorous appears to his followers just as he does in real life as a massive humanoid with smooth, stone like white skin, four arms, long flowing hair and three golden glowing eyes.

Rituals: Rituals in the church of Ravnivorous are often ornate and opulent, reflecting the glory of the Empire and the Emperor. Churches are similarly opulent, often using the finest materials an area can provide and as expensive as the parishioners can afford. These rituals are seldom long, however, as it is generally assumed that the success of the Empire depends as more on the hard work of its citizens than what the Emperor will do for them. Rituals to Ravnivorous generally involve a sermon that includes some of the Emperor’s history and a lesson to be learned from the passage. Many people also donate money or goods during these services. These are never sacrificed but are given to the appropriate authorities to be used by the Empire.

Holidays:

The Feast of Souls: Occurring on the anniversary of the creation of the Possessed, this holiday is celebrated with feasting throughout the Empire. Everyone takes the day off and joins with family and friends to enjoy a lavish meal. In smaller villages, the entire community joins together for this feast, gathering in one central location and sharing the food. In larger towns, numerous feasts occur with the rich often paying for large meals open to the public and the poor. It is a time when fabulous parties are thrown and everyone is encouraged to enjoy the greatest decadences the Empire has to offer.

This holiday holds special significance for Possessed. It is remembered as the origin of their kind and many take their Annual Soul on this day. In fact, the wealthier Possessed often buy numerous Life Slaves to kill during the Feast of Souls.

Celebrations are nowhere more extravagant than at the Capital and Ravnivorous’ Palace. The Emperor himself claims as many as 100 souls during the Feast of Souls. These individuals are not Life Slaves or prisoners however. Each one is a devotee of the Church of Ravnivorous who volunteers to sacrifice themselves to the Emperor. Given the belief that many hold that one claimed by a Possessed does not truly die but becomes part of them, it is little wonder that the competition for these positions is fierce, especially since Ravnivorous spends the week before the Feast in the company of those he is going to claim. It is considered the highest honor to be chosen as one of these sacrifices.

Zethyr was one of the major villains of my longest running D&D game.  He was the embodiment of the animals of the ocean and seas.   The same is true in the Ravnivori Empire and he is also the god of space travel (for now…I may develop another god for that at some point.)

Zethyr is also one of the most prolific producers of villains for me.  I’ve already used 3 different types of Zethyrlings (the offspring of Zethyr) in my Savage Worlds campaign.

Zethyr: The god of the deep and the hunter below, Zethyr is the unchallenged master of the oceans and seas of Retra. He lives at depths most people cannot conceive and the water is his bounty. Everything that swims or sails is his to devour at a whim. While he cannot create storms, as that is the bailiwick of the Seven Lords of Thunder, he is quite capable of whipping up whirlpools and tsunamis to punish those who displease him. He can also command any of the creatures of the sea to do his bidding and can send swarms of sharks, squid and whales to attack those who raise his ire. Of course, the greatest punishment (or glory) is to be devoured by the god, himself.

Zethyr is not so much cruel as uncaring. He has no love for any creature in his domain and sees them only as sustenance for his ceaseless hunger. His only care for the well being of his subjects is in keeping them plentiful enough for him to feed upon. Things lost in the ocean are often said to have been sacrificed to Zethyr or, more crassly “sent to Zethyr’s gullet.”

Symbol: Zethyr’s symbol is a set of shark’s jaws encircled by a dozen writhing, intertwined tentacles. It is often known as the Teeth and Tentacles. These symbols are often carved from coral, shell, pearl or some other material garnered from the sea and not a few are crafted from the bones of sea creatures.

Trapping: Water

Knowledge Skills: Seamanship, Shipbuilding

Appearance: Zethyr’s physical form combines two of the fiercest predators of the deep. The front half of the god is a massive, mighty shark with sharp, bony protuberances over his eyes and on the front edges of his fins. Zethyr’s jaws are large enough to swallow a beast as large as a great white shark whole. His teeth are as large as the hands of a minotaur. Zethyr’s rear half is that of a kraken. Ten, thick, powerful tentacles constantly writhe around the god. Each is covered in suckers the size of dinner plates and sharp claws the size of meat hooks. Two more tentacles that are more slender but much longer are tipped with paddle shaped appendages that are as large as small row boats. These two tentacles can be used to grip and crush prey but also propel the god through the water.

Rituals: Zethyr’s rituals are generally performed at the beginnings and endings of journeys that take place in the god’s realm. Any sea voyage begins with a sacrifice to Zethyr. Any port city of any decent size includes a temple to Zethyr and this temple is always on the edge of the water and contains a tide pool, either natural or man made. Each of these tide pools is home to an aspect of Zethyr. A shark, squid or other sea predator is chosen by each temple to be its aspect of Zethyr. Sacrifices take the form of some sort of meat, the more exotic and expensive the better. As may be guessed, these sacrifices are tossed to the aspect before a voyage is undertaken. If the sacrifice is devoured then the voyage is considered to be blessed. Once a voyage is over, many captains sacrifice some sort of valuable object, generally a sculpture, gem or magical object. These objects are generally not devoured but rather decorate the waters of the tide pool, making them treasure hordes of valuables. Occasionally, an aspect will devour one of these sacrifices as it sinks. The person who makes such a sacrifice is generally considered truly blessed by Zethyr and often finds himself very popular with people who need things transported over the seas and finds himself quite successful. Not a few of the devout have begun making these sacrifices at the beginnings and ends of voyages on Void Runners as well.

Holidays:

Zethyr’s week: This holiday occurs at the height of hurricane season, when Zethyr’s fury is at its greatest each year. In this week, Zethyr’s followers truly devote themselves to their god. They study Zethyr’s children closely and swim with them to more closely commune with them and thus with their god. Dozens of ships depart each major port, loaded with devotees who are hoping to come closer to Zethyr. They find the areas where sharks, squid and other dangerous sea creatures exist. Then, they join them in the water. As might be expected, several people die in the jaws of these creatures. What is surprising is how few people die in this way during this week. There is some debate amongst the followers of the god whether the people who are eaten are the truly blessed or if they are the ones who are punished by Zethyr. For those who are not able to take a week away from home and go on one of these voyages, they flock to the local temple and commune with the aspect that lives in their pool. People swim with these animals as well. In fact, many people consider it a right of passage to swim across the tide pool. Again, as might be expected, not everyone survives this swim and the aspect eats well.

Tusquannah is another idea that I’ve recycled, though I dont’ know that he’s ever appeared in a game that I’ve actually run.  As a god of the wild places, there’s a pretty decent chance that he’s going to appear in my Reignsborough University campaign as an avenging spririt.

Tusquannah: While Sivis Kee is the goddess of birth and fertility, and Tauronus is the god of tamed beasts, Tusquannah is the god of wild places and wild animals. He reigns over the dark places of the world that man has not tamed. He is the ruler of primordial forests, verdant jungles and the beasts that call them their home. Much like Zethyr he is not so much worshiped by men as propitiated to avoid bad luck.

Symbol: Tusquannah’s symbol is known as the Primordial Tree and consists of a tree growing out of the ground with roots made out of claws and/or fangs.

Trappings: Earth

Knowledge Skills: Forestry, Wildlife

Appearance: Tusquannah’s form is that of a massive, powerfully built giant twice as tall as a man. He is covered in thick, shaggy fur that slowly changes color and pattern going through the gamut of pelts that the animals he rules possess. He has the build of a gorilla and is just as comfortable walking on all fours as he is on two legs. In fact, his hind legs are structured with double knees just as a horse or tiger might have. His face is vaguely human, but undeniably savage with a snout instead of a nose, a mouthful of sharp teeth, tusks and slit pupils like a cat. He also has a pair of ram’s horns springing from his forehead and a set of bony spines running down his spine.

Rituals: Tusquannah has no temples and his representatives present their offerings to him at small shrines. These shrines are always placed on the edges of wild places, either along roads going through untamed forest, jungles or plains or on the borders of towns and hamlets that are distant from other urban centers. People leave offerings of food at these shrines when they have to delve into these ancient, dangerous places. Likewise, there are no priests dedicated to Tusquannah. Rather, those who devote themselves to the Lord of the Wild Places leave civilization entirely, going into the wilds and living as one with nature.

Holidays: The Rite of the Wild: Those who live on the edges of the wilds celebrate only one holiday dedicated to Tusquannah. Once per year, the children who are on the verge of adulthood of villages that border wild places are sent on a quest. A distant landmark, one deep in the wilds is chosen and they must travel there. They are not allowed to take anything with them. No tools, no food, and no water. The point is purposefully set so that it will take a week for the round trip. The people undergoing the Rite are expected to work together and to use their wilderness skills to survive. Most villages schedule this trip in the spring when there is plenty to scavenge and most predators have plenty of other prey to hunt. Nonetheless, occasionally, one or more of the people is killed in the trip. In other villages, they send these young people out in the midst of winter as a true test of their skills. It is considered a surprise in these villages when everyone makes it back alive. Those who make the trip in any case, are considered adults upon their return.

I’m actually, not entirely sure why I felt the need to create a god of trade.  It’s a fairly minor field and there are plenty of other areas that could use a god in my universe but I was thinking about it and a name came to me and Kardesh was born.

Kardesh

The god of commerce, Kardesh is the patron of merchants, salesmen and traders. Most people who purchase things often pray to Kardesh for guidance and protection as well. He exists any place that a transaction takes place, whether a direct trade of goods or if money changes hands. Many stores feature a small shrine to Kardesh in some out of the way corner. Given that the last thing this god wants to do is interfere with commerce, these shrines are often very small and unobtrusive. A fickle god, he often blesses a person with massive wealth and success one day and abject failure and poverty the next. Only the cleverest, most cunning and most patient of worshipers manage to constantly build their fortunes under the eyes of their god.

Symbol: Kardesh’s symbol is a gold coin that features his profile on both sides. On one side, the god is smiling and jovial, on the other, he is scowling and disapproving. The larger the coin, the more prosperous its wearer and many of Kardesh’s worshipers periodically upgrade the coins they carry as they grow more wealthy. Temples to Kardesh are rare but those that exist feature even larger versions of these coins as their central focus.

Trappings: Earth

Knowledge Skills: Navigation, Trade

Appearance: Kardesh appears as a pudgy man of the same species as his worshipers when he appears to them. Despite the chubbiness of his body, his facial features are quite sharp and his eyes incredibly piercing. It seems impossible to lie to him and he seems to be able to see directly into a person’s very soul. He always has a thick, long beard, and an extravagant mustache though the color changes to be appropriate for the people of whatever region he is in. He is constantly smiling or frowning, his emotions and expressions never neutral but always extreme.

Rituals: Kardesh’s rituals are small and simple. Before any new economic endeavor, worshipers will donate a few coins to the church. This sacrifice is made to demonstrate that the worshiper understands that part of his success will come at the whim of Kardesh. These donations are made by enfolding them in a sheet of parchment with the worshiper’s hope for the endeavor written out. The priests of Kardesh light this parchment, burning away the wishes of the worshiper so that they rise up to the god and leaving behind the coins. By the same token, after any successful endeavor ends, worshipers also donate a percentage of their profit to the church. This donation is simply given to the priests without the burned parchment, though worshipers are encouraged to write up their success and these are given to the priests and enshrined in libraries of success that serve as inspiration and educational devices for other worshipers.

Holidays: Kardesh does not appreciate holidays. Whereas other gods might enjoy it when their followers take a day out of their work to show their faith and awe, Kardesh generally sees this as a waste of time. Much better for his followers to spend their days working and trading to help extend both his glory and their own fortunes. The only thing that can be loosely called a holiday dedicated to Kardesh is Trade Day.

Trade Day: The first day of every month that is not a holiday dedicated to another god, Trade Day is fairly self explanatory. In towns and villages throughout the Empire, citizens gather in town squares and on certain streets to buy, sell and trade all manner of goods. Tradition dictates where these bazaars will set up and only the largest cities will have more than one location. Part flea market, part carnival, in addition to the booths and rugs set out by people who are selling their wares, others stroll around with packs and bags loaded with goods and jugglers, musicians and other entertainers as well as food vendors try to draw the attention and coin of the crowd. Trade Day is an excellent chance to purchase second hand goods as well as items directly from the people who create them in their homes. Many caravans also try to time their visits to various towns to coincide with Trade Days, often having a set circuit that they traverse again and again. Local professional merchants rarely bother to participate in Trade Days, as the profit margin simply is not enough. However, though goods can often be bought cheaper at Trade Days than at a store, the buyer must beware. Most of the people there are honest but their goods are second hand or homemade with no oversight so some low quality goods are to be expected. Not a few scoundrels take advantage of Trade Days as well, selling fake goods, or overpriced, poor quality items presented as better than they are. Nonetheless, a canny trader can find bargains and even rare items at Trade Days.