Fictional divine beings have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can remember going to the library and using a card catalogue (yes…a card catalogue, that should tell you how long ago it was) to look up Norse gods when I was a kid. Any chance I get when I’m playing an RPG, I play some sort of divine being whether this be an Eternal in a Marvel game, a demi-god in a Rifts game or something more creative and esoteric in another system that requires more creativity.
Little wonder then, that one of the first things I started to define for the Ravnivori Empire was their pantheon. It began with 4 gods a sort of polyamorous group representing the sun, earth, air and living things. Of course, jealousy and murder arose in the midst of this creation myth and one of the gods ended up dead, though he came back, in a way.
Also, while creating these gods, I came up with the need for more trappings to represent their elemental abilities. So, here are the core gods of my setting (though the 7 Lords of Thunder are not completely defined) as well as the trappings I’ve come up with.
Amaz: Amaz is the goddess of the sun and the patron goddess of the Amazons. She brings heat and warmth to the world but also can be extremely vengeful, turning her wrath upon the world to leave it scorched and parched.
Many farmers pray to Amaz not to give them bountiful crops, for that is the purview of Sivis Kee, but to ask her not to destroy their crops with her heat and light.
Amaz is also a warrior goddess, the goddess of controlled strikes and well timed attacks. She is not brute force and overwhelming strength, that is Tauronus, but she is the proper and efficient usage of force. In this aspect she is the goddess of not only Amazons but also all warriors who depend on skill more than strength.
Amaz was once married to the original Lord of Thunder. His death at the hands of Tauronus caused Amaz to fly into such a fury that she scorched the earth for a decade. Only her husband’s rebirth as the Twelve Lords of Thunder soothed her anger. Still, every summer she burns bright and fierce with the memory of her loss and pain. Each winter, her sorrow causes her to withdraw from the world, burning in the sky for less time and with less strength.
Symbol: Amaz’s symbol is known as the Golden Shield. In its most basic form it is a simple yellow circle with a dozen triangles around the edge, symbolizing the sun. Oftentimes, this symbol is embellished with the triangles replaced by arrows.
Knowledge Skills: Craft(Fletching), Horses
Appearance: Amaz appears as a beautiful Amazon woman with golden skin and hair and eyes that shine with an inner light so bright it is painful to look at. Though she may appear garbed in armor or ordinary clothing, she always bears her shield and a magic weapon that can take the form of a bow or spear with but a thought.
Rituals: The clergy of Amaz hold services on the first day of each week. Temples to the goddess feature a hole in the roof that allows the sun to shine in. Though services are held from sunup to sundown, the holiest time is considered when the sun is shining directly down through this hole and those touched by the sun during that time are considered blessed for the week. If the sun is not shining during the service, it is considered a bad omen and many who are truly faithful to Amaz will not begin any endeavor in a week when the sun did not shine on their service.
Day of Rage: This holiday occurs on the Summer Equinox, the day every year when the sun is in the sky the longest. Worshipers of Amaz have rather complex calendars that ensure that this day is correct every year and it has been plotted out for a thousand years. This day marks Amaz’s greatest rage over the loss of the Lord of Thunder. It is when she burns longest and her worshipers carry this rage and sorrow for themselves. Beginning at dawn, worshipers of Amaz throw themselves into a frenzy of violence and morning. They gather together to dance, throwing themselves violently against each other for hours on end, often until they collapse from exhaustion or thirst. They wail, raising a din that can be heard from miles away, until their voices are raw. This day is also one of forgiveness. Anyone may bring their grievances to another on the Day of Rage and get them out. The other party is encouraged to defend themselves and these arguments often come to violence. However, it is assumed that if both members of the conflict participate then the issue will be dropped at sunset and never spoken of again. Only by remaining silent and ignoring someone with a grievance is a person allowed to carry it beyond the Day of Rage.
Hunting and gladiatorial battles are also featured on the Day of Rage. These generally feature a female worshiper or group of worshipers hunting down or fighting a bull, ram or one of Tauronus’ other favored creatures. Formerly, this prey was always a minotaur, centaur or some other sentient male who was captured and forced to fight to the death. This still happens in many larger venues where life slaves of this type can be found and bought. Their deaths are often the climax of the day’s celebration. Any creatures who survive until nightfall are granted a full pardon.
These wild celebrations of anger and sorrow continue until the sun sets, many worshipers dancing until the very moment the sun completely disappears. Many collapse as the night falls from a combination of physical and spiritual exhaustion.
Day of Sorrow: This holiday always occurs during the winter equinox, the shortest day of the year when the sun is up for the least amount of time. This is the day when Amaz’s mourning for her lost husband reaches its apex and she withdraws most fully from the world. On the Day of Sorrow, families and friends gather at the graves of their own loved ones to honor their memories. Some spend the whole day in cemeteries though most spend the greater part of the day indoors with their living loved ones, honoring their relationships.
Though a somber occasion, the Day of Sorrow is also a day to give and receive gifts. This is both to remind loved ones of their value and as a reflection of the sacrifices made in Amaz’s name. These sacrifices are carried on all day as Priestesses of the goddess feed gifts of all kinds from worshipers to a sacred fire. Everything from art to food to precious metals to living creatures (both sentient and not) is donated by the faithful on this day and the holy fire consumes it all. Such is the power of the fire on this day that even precious gems like rubies and diamonds are completely consumed by the flame. This is all done to remind Amaz (and her worshipers) that though she has suffered a great loss there is still much that is good in the world and that it is worth returning to.
Tauronus: Tauronus is the god of the earth and the patron god of dwarves, minotaurs and centaurs. He is also the patron of herd animals. He is the firm, unyielding stone but also the soft soil from which crops spring. When his fury grows great, the earth shakes but he usually provides constant, dependable support to the creatures who walk the world.
Miners and builders often pray to Tauronus both to protect them from disasters and to bless them with success.
Tauronus is also a warrior god. Whereas Amaz is the goddess of skill and strategy in war, Tauronus is the god of overwhelming force and brute tactics. His victories are savage and punishing and he exhorts his worshipers to sweep their opponents completely from the field.
Tauronus was once married to Amaz, Sivis Kee and the original Lord of Thunder. He grew jealous of Amaz and the Lord of Thunder, however as the latter often used his clouds to hide Amaz from Tauronus. The earth lord’s wrath became so great that he tore the Lord of Thunder apart, bringing about such sorrow in Amaz that she withdrew her warmth from the world for years. The schism separated the gods from that point on and Amaz has still never forgiven Tauronus.
Symbol: Tauronus’ symbol is a pair of bull’s horns and is often called the stone cradle. In fact, the horns are often depicted as being made of stone.
Knowledge Skills: Animal Husbandry, Mining
Appearance: Tauronus shares many of the aspects of his favored followers. He appears much like a centaur, though his lower body is much more bovine than equine, having the build of a powerful bull. A massively muscled humanoid torso sits atop this body in place of an animal’s head. However, capping this torso is a bull’s head with massive horns and flashing red eyes. Tauronus appears to be made of some sort of stone.
Rituals: Tauronus’ temples always feature bare, unfinished floors. Depending upon the soil type of the area this may be nothing more than dirt to jagged stone. The walls and ceilings are made of dressed stone. Every temple contains either a natural crevice or a deeply dug hole in the ground. The purpose of this hole is to sacrifice those who are not worthy of Tauronus. Any defective herd animals (and in more primitive, secluded communities, children) are brought to the temple and hurled into the pit. It is believed that Tauronus sits at the core of the world and takes these defective animals, fixes them and sends them back into the world in a better form.
Testing Day: Each year, all the worshipers of Tauronus gather together to test their strength and stamina against each other. This is a festival day in communities throughout the Empire that includes celebrations even beyond the activities at their core. But the core of Testing Day are a variety of contests like wrestling, caber tossing and weight lifting that compare the strength of Tauronus’ worshipers against each other. Wrestling is the only contest that is universal to every Testing Day while each community has a variety of different contests beyond that. Racing is also common on Testing Day and the great cross-continent race that occurs every year in the Empire begins on Testing Day. Another common contest is bull fighting, or some other combat between a humanoid and a large, powerful herd animal. The greatest of this style of combat occurs in the mountains between Almatia and Shan. A single champion gladiator battles a war elephant in single combat. The elephant wins at least as often as the man. At the end of each Testing Day each town gives out prizes to the winners of the day. These prizes range from money and jewelry (most often decorated belts of some sort) to simple laurel wreaths to official titles to slaves or livestock. Generally, the greatest prize from these contests are the stories that are told about the winners and the respect that they receive for their success.
Day of Wrath: This holiday has no set date and does not occur every year in every community that follows Tauronus. In fact, there are a few Tauronus congregations who have never had to observe it. For Day of Wrath is only held after an earthquake. These events are considered a show of Tauronus’ fury against the people and animals who crawl upon his surface and that he must be placated. Immediately after an earthquake, sometimes before any effort is made to save anyone or anything, follows of Tauronus gather at his temple with sacrifices. This can be any kind of valuable though the favored sacrifices are bulls, rams and other male herd animals who are exemplary examples of their species. In some places, humanoid males are also sacrificed if they are considered worthy and it is not uncommon for a worshiper of Tauronus to throw himself into the pit. All of these sacrifices are tossed into Tauronus’ pit one at a time while his worshipers pray for forgiveness and prostrate themselves. In other places, the worshipers of Tauronus assume that their god takes what he wants on a Day of Wrath. Rather than sacrificing to him, they simply do not try to recover what is ruined by an earthquake. In fact, they do not repair any damage done to buildings or dig out any of their goods from the rubble. For that matter, they do not attempt to rescue any animals of people who are trapped in the aftermath. At best, they will grant the person or beast a quick death but will not even recover their dead bodies.
Sivis Kee: Sivis Kee has a number of aspects and worshippers who follow each individually or all of them together. Sivis Kee is the personification of fertility.
Her usual aspect is as a maternal figure who brings comfort and affection to those in pain or need. She is the goddess of the harvest and childbirth. She is prayed to for both abundance in crops and health in pregnancy.
There is a sensual side to the goddess, however. After all, her worshippers are not fools and know where babies come from. In this aspect, she is seen as a sensual, lusty figure who promotes hedonistic practices. Adulterers, prostitutes and others who enjoy free sexual practices pray to this aspect of Sivis Kee. For her part, Sivis Kee does not seem to prefer either type of worshipper over the other. She is as attentive to the prayers of a pregnant woman as she is to her adulterous husband; to a farmer beseeching her for a bumper crop as she is to a prostitute hoping for a profitable night.
Sivis Kee has been romantically (or at least sexually) linked to every god in the Ravnivori pantheon as well as numerous mortals and even Amaz.
Symbol: The symbol of Sivis Kee is known as the Gate to Plenty and is either a pair of curved goat’s horns or sheaves of wheat touching at top and bottom to make a sharp oval.
Knowledge Skills: Agriculture, Childbirth, Sex
Appearance: Sivis Kee appears as a female satyr with a humanoid torso, goat-like legs and a pair of sharp horns growing from her forehead. Her skin is invariably a pale blue and her hair a blonde the color of ripe wheat. She’ll have the features of whatever race she is appearing before, pointed ears around elves, a stocky build around dwarves, etc. When appearing in her mothering aspect she is full figured with heavy breasts, full hips and a jolly, matronly face. When appearing in her more sensual aspect, she retains her full breasts but has a more slender figure and a much more seductive face.
Rituals: Many of Sivis Kee’s rituals take place outside in the fields, orchards and vineyards where her assistance is desired. These generally include prayers to the goddess as well as the ritualistic pouring of water or sacrifice of food. Those rituals revolving around childbirth generally take place in the home, with a priest blessing the womb of a woman hoping to get pregnant or that of a woman who is already pregnant. When the time comes to give birth a priest or priestess of Sivis Kee is often there to help ease the mother’s pain and the discomfort of the child entering the world.
Many of Sivis Kee’s more sensual rituals also take place outside and often in the fields, orchards and vineyards that her supplicants hope to be blessed. A priest or priestess of Sivis Kee will often copulate with the owner of a field in the field in celebration of the life that they hope will soon come to it. Others dedicated to this aspect of Sivis Kee will hold private ceremonies in her honor where one or more of her clergy are the guests of honor and leaders of orgies in her name.
Day of Planting: This holiday occurs on different days in different parts of the Empire. It takes place on the first day of sowing of their crops, whatever day is most appropriate for the crop and location. The festival begins before sunrise with the entire community gathering together in the fields. Quiet prayers and hymns begin the festival and when the sun rises, the volume and speed increases.
There is much dancing and singing that continue between the actual job of planting the crop. The planting on this day is more symbolic than efficient and generally, each farmer only plants one field with the remaining planting and real work taking place over the next days or weeks as necessary.
At the end of the day, there is a small feast, in fact, it is exceptionally small with each person eating only half of what they normally would. The food prepared is made purposefully bland and unappetizing. All of this is done in the hopes that Sivis Kee will take pity on her worshippers and their meager stores and will provide a bountiful crop for those who praise her.
Bonfires are lit as the sun sets and the dancing and singing continues well into the night. A priest or priestess and the owner of the field that did the poorest the year before remains behind after everyone else has gone home. As a final blessing and request for aid, these two individuals copulate in the failed field to close out the holiday. Often, others engage in this final blessing in the privacy of their own homes as well.
In more urban areas, this holiday is still observed. The meager feast is held and people often await this day to start new projects, giving praise to Sivis Kee while beginning in the hopes that she will stray a bit from her domain to provide a bounty in whatever endeavor they are beginning.
Harvest Thanksgiving: Again, the exact day of this holiday varies from location to location dependent on the crops that are raised in the area. At dawn the day before a community’s crops are harvested, they all gather in one of the fields. A priestess of Sivis Kee presents a small sermon and gives thanks to the goddess for the coming harvest. When this is done, the whole community then harvests the field as a group. They work until the work is done whether this takes a few hours or they are forced to continue to work after the sun sets. Once the whole field or orchard has been harvested, the community gathers and shares a great feast. While they are not restricted to what they’ve harvested, they use as much of it as they can. Many of them spend the day before cooking other dishes that go with the harvest.
The Seven Lords of Thunder: A sort of mini-pantheon themselves, the Seven Lords of Thunder are both the sons of Amaz and the reincarnations of the original Lord of Thunder. The original name of this god is lost in the annals of history as Amaz’s rage and sorrow was raised every time it was mentioned. As their title suggests, the Seven Lords of Thunder are the gods of rain and storms. The title is not entirely correct, however as not all of them control thunder. Upi, for example is the god of rejuvenating spring showers.
The Seven Lords of Thunder were born from Amaz after her lover was slain by Tauronus. They sprang from her fully form and immediately in their full power. Each of the Seven Lords of Thunder represents one aspect of their father’s powers and the weather that he controlled. Though they are brothers, they are seldom together and do not always get along.
Symbols: Each of the Seven Lords of Thunder has a different symbol, though they as a whole share a symbol. This symbol consists of a dark cloud with a single lightning bolt striking out of it.
Upi, Lord of Rain: Upi’s symbol is a fluffy cloud with a hint of the sun shining out from behind it.
Kahwen, Lord of Lightning: Kahwen’s symbol is an angry storm cloud with two lightning bolts extending from it.
Grashk, Lord of Sleet and Hail: Grashk’s symbol is a hammer head fading into several shrinking lines at the top, symbolizing the beating pressure of the myriad tiny particles that make up his domain.
Mu’Ab, Lord of Tornadoes: Mu’Ab’s symbol is a top down view of a spiral.
Lord of Blizzards:
Lord of Snow:
Lord of Hurricanes:
Trapping: Each of the 7 Lords of Thunder share the Sound Trapping but each also has an additional trapping, as listed below:
Upi, Lord of Rain: Water
Kahwen, Lord of Lightning: Electricity
Grashk, Lord of Sleet and Hail: Cold/Ice
Mu’Ab, Lord of Tornadoes: Air
Lord of Blizzards: Cold/Ice
Lord of Snow: Cold/Ice
Lord of Hurricanes: Air
Knowledge Skills: All Seven Lords of Thunder share the following – Drumming, Meteorology
Appearance: Each of the Seven Lords of Thunder has their own unique appearance. In fact, they don’t even look that much like brothers. They represent all races from Retra and even, in some cases, animals.
Upi, Lord of Rain: Upi looks like a very plump Shan human with a jolly face and laughing eyes. He is bald with a large, round body and dark golden skin. His favored weapon is a bare hand.
Kahwen, Lord of Lightning: Kahwen looks like a fierce hawk. His feathers are dark grey and black with irregular streaks of white and silver that constantly shift. His eyes and talons crackle with lightning. His favored weapon is the scissor katar.
Grashk, Lord of Sleet and Hail: Grashk appears as a massive Ravnivori dwarf with a constant scowl on his face. His hair and beard are intricately braided and covered in a rime of ice. His favored weapon is a hammer or maul.
Mu’Ab Lord of Tornadoes: Mu’ab looks like a black and grey Naga. His tail is enormous and he balances on the tip towering over his surroundings while the coils writhe and twist madly. His favored weapon is he flail or whip.
Lord of Blizzards: A thin wolf with slavering jaws and piercing eyes.
Lord of Snow: A particularly fluffy arctic hair.
Lord of Hurricanes: A very fit Almatian man with roiling thunderclouds for hair and crashing waves for a beard.
Rituals: The Rituals of the Seven Lords of Thunder consist of worshipers exposing themselves to the blessings of the gods. They join together at their temples, which have no roofs, and commune with each other and their god when rain and storms strike. Depending upon the the lord, this can be something as pleasant as bathing in a summer shower to something as uncomfortable as standing in a blizzard or something as terrifying as taking the chance of being struck by lightning.
Holidays: Day of Sunder/Thunder: This holiday takes place a week before the Day of Wrath celebrated by followers of Amaz. Tradition holds that this is the exact anniversary of the day when the original Lord of Thunder was torn apart by his rival Tauronus. Much like the Day of Sorrow for Amaz worshipers, this is a day of mourning and anger for followers of the Seven Lords of Thunder. Many worshipers spend the day wailing for the loss of their Lord. Others spend the day in mock, or true combat to spend their rage. Years when it rains on this day are considered truly blessed and even dabblers in the worship of the Seven Lords of Thunder turn out on these days, despite the otherwise inclement weather.
Day of 7 Births: This Holiday takes place 7 months after the Day of Thunder. It is the day that the 7 Lords of Thunder sprung, full grown, from the womb of their mother, Amaz. A day of celebration, any community with a large contingent of worshipers of the 7 Lords holds a large festival on this day. Gifts are exchanged and it is treated much as an extra birthday for everyone in the community. In fact, whatever traditions are followed for birthdays in the area are followed for the whole community on the Day of 7 Births. Gifts are donated to the temple of the 7 Lords and many are given to any orphans in the community. Any child born on the Day of 7 Births is considered blessed and often become priests of the 7 Lords of Thunder. Those born on a Day of 7 Births when it also rains or snows are considered doubly blessed.
Lift: Beneficial powers add +1 to Pace and, on a raise increase Agility one die type for the duration of the power.
Tumult: A raise with a detrimental power leaves the target surrounded by a chaotic tumult of air. The target causes a -1 penalty to hearing based notice rolls and a -1 penalty to any agility based skills while the power is active or for one round for Instant powers.
Armor: Beneficial powers provide +2 Armor but reduce the target’s pace by 1 because of the coating of earth and rock formed.
Burden: A raise with a detrimental power results in the target’s movement counting as Difficult Ground while the power is active or his next movement for instant powers due to the rocks and earth that cling to him.
Armor: Beneficial powers provide +2 Armor versus fire and heat, but fire and heat attacks count as a dispel against them.
Douse: Any flames in the area of effect of a power with the water trapping are put out on any roll except for a 1.
Torrent: The force of a damaging attack with a water trapping is such that the target must make an opposed strength roll against the result of the attack or be pushed back 1 square. For each raise the attacker gets, the target is pushed back an additional square.
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