Deities and Demigods
The world of Avalore brings a slew of changes for divine spellcasters and introduces a new Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses with characteristics that are completely unbecoming of the archetypal ‘D&D Good-Gods Bad-Gods’ setting. The big picture is best explained in three parts.
Part 1: The Groundwork
A few realities one might not expect but are necessary to ‘get in character’
- The gods are elves: Elven skygazers were the first to understand that the heavenly bodies revolving around in the sky were in fact the planes from which the gods that had decorated their lives. They had identified their own home to be the ‘Material Plane’.
- No one ever doubted that the gods exist: ‘Faith’ is generally perceived as a belief in something despite evidence. In our fantasy world, this is not the case. The machinations of the Gods on the material plane are evidence enough. Skygazers can see their planes of existence illuminating the night sky. The sun is the combination of the planes of fire, air, earth, and water – the four elements of the Cosmos.
- But few can be sure what they want: Elven priests passed down stories on how the Gods have acted. These anecdotes provide insight into what each god loves and loathes, but they often act contrary to their beliefs when angered. Therefore it is pertinent to sparingly worship the gods (they are easy to insult) and to consult a priest when you have no other option.
- The gods are not good or evil: Hypatia sends rain that is a farmer’s blessing, but she is just as likely to send an excess in the form of a tsunami and destroy that same farmer’s well being. Delphiticus is the patron god of medicine, but is the first to be blamed when plagues strike.
There are three truths that cannot be doubted:
- The Gods exist
- The Gods are consumed with the affairs of mortals
- The Gods loathe the undead and resurrected
Part 2: The Story of Origin
Long ago, almost beyond the memory of our elven ancestors, the Cosmos was an ordered and just universe. Vangelis reigned with his queen and fathered 5 daughters: Andromeda, Icenae, Didice, Hypatia, and Ariana, who were foretold to be his death. Regardless, he loved them all with compassion even as his eldest Andromeda led the plot to overthrow him, thrusting a blade into his unyielding heart. Andromeda and her sisters split the power of the Throne in an arrangement known as the ‘Pillar of Four’ – each took an element, an essential building block vital to the fabric of the cosmos: Fire went to Andromeda, who had given mortals the spark of civilization before her father’s murder. Earth went to Didice, a silent conspirator as stone cold as the Earth itself. Water went to Hypatia, who loved to play in her father’s oceans. Air went to Ariana, the youngest daughter of the five. Only embittered Icenae was left out of the deal, a reality that was bound to happen – there cannot be five where there was meant to be four.
From the Pillar of Four, the goddesses subjugated the hearts and minds of mortals. And from there, the goddesses propagated the current Pantheon, less like Vangelis’ divine order and more like a social clique, with Andromeda at the top. The Cosmos was henceforth a fickle state of existence, lacking its Father’s chivalrous rule.
Part 3: The Ecclesiastical
The ‘Cleric’ is renamed to ‘Priest’ and receives a few mechanical changes:
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Priests are proficient with all simple weapons and light armor. Clerics are also proficient with the favored weapon of their deity.
In standard D&D-Pathfinder, Clerics are individuals that find ‘a calling to faith’. In Avalore, faith finds the priest at young age in the form of a sign. A sign is a birthmark, a glowing tattoo ley-line-like depiction of whatever god the child has been chosen by. The sign takes time to manifest, usually appearing in the child’s adolescence. But once it has appeared the child’s fate as servant of their patron is sealed. It is foolish to struggle against one’s destiny. It can prove to be a boon to those that do not resist it:
A priest’s sign becomes stronger and provides otherworldly protection. Starting at level 3 and every 6 levels afterwards, a priest gains a +1 sacred bonus to AC. At level 6, the priest can cast the spell ‘Protection against Chaos/Evil/Good/Law’ (3 + Wisdom Modifier) times per day, as a supernatural ability. At 12, this improves to ‘Magic Circle against Chaos/Evil/Good/Law’.
A child is taken by priests for their training and initiation into the priesthood. For every God, there is a only a single Priest or Priestess that can commune directly with them. This High Priest relays the wishes of their patron-god down the chain of command to priests and inquisitors, who are ready to carry out the order or risk the consequences of insubordination.
The alignment of a god is relative to where they stand in society. A ‘Good’ gods are in prominent standing with the divine community, while ‘Evil’ gods are those outside the divine social circle. The law-chaos axis works similarly. A Lawful Evil deity would imply that the god is not well liked, but seen as a necessary component to the balance of the Cosmos. While a Chaotic Good deity would imply that they constantly break the order but are still loved by the other gods.
Ajax – Bringer of War, son of Andromeda. Relishes in a life devoted to combat. His relish for conflict is something of an irritant in the Pantheon, but no mortal or immortal will deny that he is the Lord of War, and it best to appease him before battle, lest you risk an army’s total defeat.
Domains: Destruction, Glory, Strength, War
Subdomains: Blood, Heroism, Honor, Tactics
Favored Weapon: 1 Martial Weapon of choice – War is unbiased.
Sign: Those born with Ajax’s sign have unnatural inclinations for battle, leading to violent childhoods. When priests come to take the child, he is eagerly given. In priesthood, he is primarily trained to focus his battle lust.
Andromeda – Queen of the Cosmos, the all essential god of fire; she provided the spark to civilization, though it can be burned down just as easily if she becomes angered. As the leading conspirator in the murder of her Father Vangelis, She rules the Pantheon, though she shares power with her three other sisters in the Pillar of Four.
Domains: Fire, Law, Nobility, Strength, Sun
Subdomains: Ash, Day, Leadership, Light, Smoke
Favored Weapon: Longsword
Sign: You bear the fiery red phoenix of Andromeda’s birthmark. You were both respected and feared in your childhood, like no other birthmarked, before the priests ushered you into their temples.
Arbiter – The will of the gods, son of Andromeda. He carries out the schemes of gods. His methods are both merciful and cruel; calculated and overblown. He is the wishes of the gods, whose motives are greater than that which can be conceived. Those that wish for vengeance give an offering to Arbiter.
Domains: Darkness, Death, Law, Trickery
Subdomains: Murder, Night
Favored Weapon: Starknife
Sign: Children marked by Arbiter often know their destiny before the birthmark appears. In their silent, nascent childhoods, they contemplate what lies ahead and leave home before their parents and loved ones realize where they have gone.
Ariana – The sister of Air in the Pillar of Four. Her demeanor is often fickle and unpredictable, and she seems to take a certain pleasure in provoking Andromeda’s wrath. When violent storms strike, Ariana has been angered.
Domains: Air, Destruction, Law, Weather
Subdomains: Catastrophe, Cloud, Seasons, Storms, Wind
Favored Weapon: Whip
Sign: The ones marked under Ariana are notoriously difficult to predict, as their volatile tempers are typical of children.
Bahl – The unruly son of Andromeda. A callous, carousing, drunken brawler. Bahl continually thumbs his nose at his mother’s rules and any other rules of the cosmos for that matter.
Domains: Chaos, Liberation, Luck, Strength, Trickery
Subdomains: Freedom, Revolution
Favored Weapon: Greatsword
Sign: Children marked by Bahl are easy to find, characterized by their exceptional unruliness, strength, and unbecoming lechery. Toddlers quaffing ales are not uncommon when they bear the sign of Bahl.
Delphiticus – Elder dutiful son of Andromeda, the philosopher. Delphiticus embodies the stoic school of thought and often remains neutral where others would find it absurd. He is patron deity of those that consider themselves the intelligentsia of society.
Domains: Knowledge, Magic, Rune
Subdomains: Arcane, Divine, Language, Memory, Thought, Wards
Favored Weapon: Quarter Staff
Sign: Toddlers with the latent sign of Delphiticus are best identified by learning to walk, speak, and write years before their normal counterparts. The child’s tireless devotion to the accumulation of knowledge makes them generally willing students to the priesthood, though some will hide their identity in favor of pursuing arcane artistries.
Didice – The sister of Earth in the Pillar of Four. Andromeda constantly bickers at Didice (and Delphiticus) for being so slow to act, but Didice is infinitely patient to bear her insults. Dwarves especially pay respects, even revere, the goddess.
Domains: Community, Earth, Law, Protection, Rune
Subdomains: Caves, Family, Home, Metal, Wards
Favored Weapon: Mace
Sign: Those born with the sign of Didice are soft spoken children with a fascination for soil. Though Dwarves are most often marked by Didice, she does not exclusively pick and choose within her progeny. When the priests come, they take the child’s extraordinary patience and put it to use.
Dido – Lustful daughter of Didice; Described as exquisitely beautiful, artists adore her as their patron god. Yet her love often leaves the loved heartbroken or driven insane into killing themselves; and for this, she is perhaps one of the most lethal gods. Also the patron goddess of housewives and quick to revenge those women that have been wronged.
Domains: Charm, Luck, Madness, Protection, Trickery
Subdomains: Curse, Deception, Insanity, Lust
Favored Weapon: Sap
Sign: Dido chooses exclusively females. They are physically flawless children that are the darlings of the community, though when the mark becomes present, it is understood that priestesses must quickly take the child. If anyone ever dares to touch one of these sacred virgins, they will either find themselves cursed or be overcome with such a swell of love and commit suicide.
Hypatia – The sister of Water in the Pillar of Four. Water is near-universal and is all important to man. Merchants, Mariners, Explorers and others that travel great distances best pay respect to her.
Domains: Travel, Water, Weather
Subdomains: Exploration, Oceans, Seasons, Trade
Favored Weapon: Trident
Sign: Children with the mark of Hypatia are most often born near the ocean, or in especially rainy weather. As children they have a difficult to recognize wanderlust characteristic of their priests.
Icenae – Left out of the power sharing agreement after Vangelis’ murder, she resents the others and frequently works with with witches, druids, animals, and other barbaric forces to undermine the Pillar of Four, particularly Andromeda.
Domains: Animal, Chaos, Water
Favored Weapon: Naginata
Sign: Deredar or wild humans are the most common choices for Icenae. Deredar priest that check newborns for weaknesses will stop short of killing the babe if they find this sign.
Kumbaba – Wild son of Icenae. He is half plant and half beast, one of the few Gods that is a non-elf. When Icenae planted the Seeds of Hatred, Kumbaba sprouted from the thorny flower. Those that dare to venture into the unforgiving wildernesses pray to Kumbaba that they will return to
Domains: Animal, Chaos, Plant, Strength
Subdomains: Feather, Ferocity, Fur, Growth
Favored Weapon: Spear
Sign: The sign of Kumbaba makes for a wild child. They are the State of Nature in a chaotic and brutal cosmos. Only a priest of Kumbaba can tame the child, honing its savage nature in a manner like one would use to sharpen the teeth of a wolf.
Noxis – King of the dead. A bastard child of the goddesses, none know who his real mother is. Noxis reluctantly volunteered to head the Plane of Shadows, the Underworld. He takes the souls that have been battered, bruised, and broken in their former lives and prepares them for their final sleep. Though his place is vital, he is associated with death, the worst thing that
can happen to a mortal, and so he is reviled along with his priests.
Domains: Darkness, Healing, Repose
Subdomains: Ancestors, Loss, Night, Restoration, Resurrection, Souls
Favored Weapon: Unarmed Strike
Sign: Those born under the sign of Noxis are taken by surprise. Former loved ones turn against them, fearing ill omens their sign brings, and those marked by Noxis must perpetually flee from a society that distrusts them. If one manages to a find a priest of Noxis, the mentor savagely beats them, forces them to meditate on the teachings of Noxis, gives a brief lesson on combat, then quickly ejects them into the mortal world. Priests of Noxis cannot give or receive comfort for doing their work.
Moradin – Loyal war construct of Didice, the first Dwarf, made perfect and immortal. Moradin enforces the two commandments of Didice. If the Dwarves lose a battle, it is because they lost the favor of Moradin.
Domains: Artifice, Law, Protection, War
Subdomains: Construct, Defense, Tactics, Toil
Favored Weapon: Tower Shield
Sign: Exclusively Dwarves, those marked by Moradin are amongst the lucky few that receive a warm reception from others. In the priesthood they will learn the principles of defense.
The Weavers – Three old women that know and direct the fates of all. They are from an entirely different state of existence, present at the creation of the Cosmos. The Fates for example decreed that Vangelis’ trust in his daughters would be his downfall. In a morbid twist of convenience, the Weavers’ mandates seem to frequently follow priests of Noxis, hence a part of why priests of Noxis are so reviled – whether they realize it or not, they are bring great danger to those around them.
Domains: Chaos, Death, Madness, Luck
Subdomains: Curse, Fate, Nightmare
Favored Weapon: Scythe
Sign: The Weavers do not take on Priests and those that choose the worship them are inviting their own deaths.
In the tales of elders, there are demigods, those that are born with a sign so strong they are thought to be the progeny of the God itself. They are of course however mortal, though their legacies will live on through the local myths of peoples and cities they touched during their lifetime. The most popular of demigods have cult followings.
Castaephon – The craftsman; bastard child of the Gods. The son of a blacksmith, his face was said to be so ugly that his mother couldn’t bear to look at him. He was confined to his family’s studio where he labored through childhood, eventually forging a mask of iron for himself. Castaephon worked tirelessly to express an inner beauty that the rest of the Cosmos could not see; and for this, he became a master artisan whose works of functionality and beauty moved all creatures who saw them to tears. Metallurgists, painters, and glassblowers are amongst his most obvious devotees.
Mechanics & More
Below are some minor changes mechanically and contextually to the divine classes under the new rules and regulations.
As mentioned above, any raising of the dead is one of the worst acts of impiety and, though such an act is possible, it is hated universally by all the gods. In the ‘Death’ domain, replace ‘Animate Dead’ with ‘Phantasmal Killer’, replace ‘Create Undead’ with ‘Unwilling Shield (APG)’, replace ‘Create Greater Undead’ with ‘Horrid Wilting’
Grey Elf Clerics
Grey Elven religion is a monotheistic religion.‘The divine is in every aspect of the Grey Elf’s being; everything she touches becomes an extension of the goddess she directly descends from’. This animism means makes line between Druids and Priests become rather blurred. The following changes are made if a Priestess is Grey Elf:
- Grey Elven Priestesses exchange one domain for the Druid’s ‘Nature Bond’ and one domain of their choice for the second
- Her alignment can be variable as Vedasutri takes on many forms.
- She retains the same sign bonuses
Though born with a sign, it never became fully active. Inquisitors are given a more rigorous martial training than their priest counterparts. Within the ecclesiastical order, they then serve as agents to further the goals of their kindred priests and to protect them when violence breaks out between rival sects. An inquisitor selects a domain as normal but does not receive any of the ‘sign related’ benefits.
An Oracle is a toddler that, like her priest counterpart, was born with a sign. It was however mutated, contorted, and bestowed a physical or mental curse upon the youngling. An oracle’s sign is muddled, and it is impossible to discern which god or goddess had marked the child. What most often happens is that priests of a similar ideal take and rear the adolescent as one of their own – An Oracle of the Flame could be raised by priests of Andromeda for example. There is also however a popular and divisive belief that oracles were not marked by any of the gods in the Pantheon, but rather, were marked by The Weavers; it is a belief that tends to keep everyone at a lengthy distance from the oracle. Oracles receive the same martial and armor proficiencies as their priest counterparts, along with the protective benefits of a sign.
A fringe breed, paladins have a sign like any other of their divine counterparts, but when others see the mark of Vangelis on a young paladin, they know that the child’s life will be a hardship like none other of the divine children.