Sunday, February 27, 2011

[The Realm] The Taur Duarg

Here's a snapshot of the Taur Duarg, the Dwarf Gods as they currently stand. They are a Lawful pantheon; the sole dwarf god of Chaos, Duergo, Father of the Duergar, is not a member of the Taur Duarg.

Jorleg Whitebeard
Intermediate God
God of Health and Longevity
Jorleg was created by Shendon from a Shard of the Cosmic Egg

Lishadi the Harmonizer (f)
Lesser Goddess
Goddess of Love and Peace
Lishadi is the daughter of Jorleg and Ribiza, and the sister of Lithriana and Martlag
Wife of Sharmal

Lithriana the Binder (f)
Lesser Goddess
Goddess of Justice and Mercy
Lithriana is the daughter of Jorleg and Ribiza, and the sister of Lishadi and Martlag

Madar Surehand
Lesser God
God of Luck and Wealth
Madar is the son of Toreg and Trastara, and the brother of Sharmal and Varrik

Martlag Longspeaker
Lesser God
God of Artifice and Runes
Martlag is the son of Jorleg and Ribiza and the brother of Lishadi and Lithriana
Vartlag (husband) of Varrik

Ribiza Gentleheart (f)
Intermediate Goddess
Goddess of Fertility and Family
Ribiza was created by Shendon from a Shard of the Cosmic Egg

Sharmal Ironfist
Lesser God
God of War and Victory
Sharmal is the son of Toreg and Trastara, and the brother of Madar and Varrik
Husband of Lishadi

Shendon All-Maker
Greater God
God of Creation
The Only
Breath of the Dwarves
Creator of Jorleg, Ribiza, Toreg, and Trastara

Toreg Rockcarver
Intermediate God
God of Life
Shield-Dwarf of the All-Maker
Carver of the Dwarves
Toreg was created by Shendon from a Shard of the Cosmic Egg
Husband of Trastara, Father of Madar, Sharmal, and Varrik

Trastara Orderbringer (f)
Intermediate Goddess
Goddess of the Seasons
Trastara was created by Shendon from a Shard of the Cosmic Egg
Wife of Toreg, Mother of Madar, Sharmal, and Varrik

Varrik the Inquisitive
Lesser God
God of Knowledge and Wisdom
Patron of the Marrik
Varrik is the son of Toreg and Trastara, and the brother of Madar and Sharmal
Marrik (wife) of Martlag Longspeaker

Marrik and Vartlag
Marrik are male dwarfs who take on female gender roles and marry other male dwarfs (the husbands of Marriks being known as Vartlags). This role is natural to the dwarves, as they were created in such numbers that there were only two male dwarves for every female dwarf; a situation that continues through natural birth ratios, and is further enforced by dwarf warrior culture.

The tradition even predates the creation of the dwarves, as Martlag Longspeaker and Varrik the Inquisitive were the first Marrik couple, Varrik taking on the Marrik female gender roles as home-maker as well as crafts-dwarf for his Vartlag husband, Martlag. There is no stigma attached to being a Marrik; it is considered a righteous, third gender role among the dwarves. Nor is there any stigma attached to being a Vartlag husband. Dwarves find homophobia to be a confusing idea, to say the least, as such is perfectly normal.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

[The Realm] Of Gods and Origins

I should note that the various gods, angels, demons, and many other such entities I mention in my writings of the Realm are not entirely of my own creation. My major sources for deities, demigods, and such entities come from the Role Aids series, once published by Mayfair Games. The major books I have consulted include: Dark Races, Demons, Dragons, Dwarves, Elves, Lich Lords, and Sentinels. I mostly have taken the names and some of the mythology about the gods, mixed it together with other sources, and made it something different. I'll be retasking the magic items and monsters from the two volumes of Fantastic Treasures and three volumes of Monsters of Myth & Legend. Another major source are the works of Lin Carter, mostly for the Great Good Gods, or the Gods of Man, as they are known; they are inspired mostly from the gods of the Thongor Cycle and the Gondwane Epic. Take the above, add a few more bits and pieces from literature, movies, and games (such as Orcus, of course), shake and stir a bit, strain through a Tolkien-inspired Vance-wrapped sieve, and you have the gods, demigods, and heroes of the Realm...

[The Realm] Of Angels, Dragons, and Elves

As the Elder Gods went forth into the World to hide the Dragon Orbs, they discovered there a plentitude of intelligent Spirits native to the World. These spirits were made of the World itself, though their intelligence and existence were separate and distinct from it. These Spirits came into individual being with the World, and at first had hid from the Elder Gods, for they saw them only in their wrath during their war with the Dragon Primeval.

The first four spirits to come forth from hiding were the greatest, and they revealed themselves only to Elthonell, for it was they who had heard his singing within the Egg before Time. And so they came to him singing: Kilotara of the Flame, Thoris of the Earth, Timar of the Air, and Treac of the Water. The forms they took were like that of Elthonell, for in their true form, they are formless, existing merely as manifestations of their element.

With his new-found followers, Elthonell was able to approach the other spirits; together a third of the host of the spirits of the World approached the Elder Gods. The other Elder Gods, like Elthonell, rejoiced, for they had already felt a great loneliness, even in all of the creation of the World. The Elder Gods then brought together the spirits that had joined them and sought to give them true form, to remake them in their image. And so they transformed the spirits into the first Angels, these being a fusion of the essence of the World and their own divine essence. There remained, however, the two-thirds of the host of spirits who hid from the Elder Gods; from these were descended the Elementals and the Fey.

The four greatest spirits, imbued with divine power, became the first of the Middle Gods. Not to be outdone by Elthonell, Shendon took the four shards of the Cosmic Egg he had gathered before the shattering and, with the power and might of the four great spirits reflected in them, carved from them four more Middle gods, the first four Dwarf Gods: Toreg Rockcarver (Earth), Trastara Orderbringer (Fire), Jorleg Whitebeard (Water), and Ribiza Gentleheart (Air).

Together with the angels and the eight Middle Gods, the Elder Gods more fully explored the World, from the five corners of existence to the highest vaults of heaven to the deepest depths of the bowels of the earth. They discovered all the creatures of the World, from the lowliest vermin to the greatest beasts. They sought out all the secrets of this new creation, and in so doing discovered the existence of the Dragons that had formed from the blood of the Dragon Primeval…

In the hidden places of the World, the dragons had gathered, and sought to unite to overthrow the Elder Gods and return the World of Chaos, as was the bidding of the blood that ran in their veins. And so as the angels and Elder Gods traveled to and fro across the face of the World, the dragons rose to stop them and slay them, that they might undo their works.

And so for the whole of the second month of the World, war raged between angel and dragon, and the Dragon Queens did battle with the Elder Gods. Forest burned, seas boiled, mountains fell, and plains were shattered. In the end, the addition of the power of Krakentiri tilted the balance; he was able to convince a full fifth of the dragon host to take the side the Elder Gods, and with these, the first Gold Dragons (reformed with Krakentiri’s divine essence), the Elder Gods, angels, and gold dragons defeated the dragons and Dragon Queens. The defeated wurms fled to the wastes of the world, there to hide and bide their time…

Together with the angels and gold dragons, five of the six Elder Gods built the Vault of Heaven, high above the World where the highest mountain met the deep blue skies, as a home that they might look out upon the World and enjoy its glories, as much as a redoubt against the dragons and the Dragon Queens. The sixth Elder God, Szkarnadle, eschewed the construction of Heaven, for he claimed that it was necessary for him, at the time, to remain upon the solid earth of the World, in order that he might guard against the return of the dragons and the Dragon Queens. For their part, the other Elder Gods believed him…

In truth, he sought out the Places of Power of the World, and the hidden Dragon Orbs, for together with their power, and the taste he had of the Cosmic Egg ere it shattered, he thought to create for himself a great race. Inspired by the creation of the Middle Gods, he sought to create his own servitor race, beholden only to him. Together with the power he gained from the Dragon Orbs and the Places of Power, he gathered earth, water, fire, and air, and from them sought to create, from himself and from captured lone spirits of the World, a new race. He was successful, mostly… for even as he was forming the first members of the new race, his fire went out, and the spirits cried out in terror, and so their final form and spirit were misshapen and incomplete.

Considering his work a failure, Szkarnadle abandoned his newly-formed race within the forest where he had made them. In form not unlike the Middle Gods, they were humanoid, but where the Middle Gods were beautiful, they were ugly; where the Middle Gods stood tall and straight like Elthonell, or squat and firm like Shendon, his creations were misshapen, long or short of leg, twisted of midsection, and gnarled of arm and knobby-kneed of leg. And so he fled from his creations, weeping at his failure, though no less humble for it.

Even as he returned to the Vault of Heaven he discovered to his horror that the dragons and the Dragon Queens had made a sortie against the angels and the Elder Gods; though the Vault of Heaven shook, and much work was lost, the Vault stood firm, and the dragons fled, once again defeated. But there were many questions for Szkarnadle, for he had failed in his claimed mission to warn of another attack.

Under the questioning of the other Elder Gods, Szkarnadle cracked, and broke into tears. He told them the whole truth… that he had in fact sought to create a new race of his own, and had ignored his claimed mission. Disappointed with their brother god, the other Elder Gods took to council to decide his fate, and the fate of his misbegotten creations. The five could not together decide upon a proper punishment, and so the four called upon an old friend, from Beyond… Qnath, the Lord of Starry Wisdom. His judgment, being completely neutral in the subject, the Divine Council felt would be most just.

Qnath heard Szkarnadle’s story, and sought the opinions of the other Elder Gods. Then for a time he pondered the riddle, and reached a solution to the conundrum. He decided that, as it is every Elder God’s desire to be worshipped rightly by his own peoples, it was not truly a crime that Szkarnadle created the Trolls (as the race came to be known). Instead, it was merely hubris, and hot-headedness, for such races are to be created after time and consideration, not in the heat of passion and desire. Thus, Szkarnadle’s punishment was to be fair and just; as he had created the trolls to be his people, for better and for worse, so they would be his people. The Elder Gods cursed Szkarnadle, once the most beautiful and handsome of the Elder Gods, to take on the form of the people he had created. Like them, he would sleep beneath the earth until their time was ripe; for Qnath had also judged that they were ill-made as they were made in the wrong time, as well as for the wrong purpose. And so the trolls and their god were made to sleep within the earth, in the bowels of the World, until their time was come to pass.

Thereafter Qnath told the gathered gods and angels that it was not meet that a god should sleep, and thus all gods be weakened, so he called upon the Elder Gods to summon forth another Elder God from Beyond, that their numbers might again be balanced (for though Qnath had been brought into the World from Beyond, he was not to balance a loss, but an addition).

Szkarnadle already slept, and had no say in the matter.

Elthonell already had found four new Middle Gods, the Taur Elthon, to be his companions, and so he left the matter to his younger friend, Shendon.

Shendon too, had created four new Middle Gods, the Taur Duarg, and was thereby satisfied, so he left the matter up to Osgdagor.

Osgdagor had no other friends than the four with whom he had discovered the Cosmic Egg, and so though he wished he could summon forth another Elder God, he had no one to call, so he left the matter up to Koram.

Koram smiled at his good fortune, and called forth Andara, the great love of his existence, his heart and soul, the Lady of Fortune and the only female Elder God to arrive from Beyond.

Then in the Vault of Heaven was there great rejoicing, as Koram Sky-King and Andara, Queen of Heaven, were married.

Elthonell dallied in the great forests and meadows of the World with his followers; there he became a firm friend of the Fey. He dallied with Timar, the Lady of Air, and they had a daughter, Elthoniel, the Lady of the Stars, born in the hours after Suliir, the Sun-King (see below). And Elthonell and his followers were happy.

Shendon and his children went unto the mountains and hills of the World; there they build great halls, and in time, were born the first Younger Gods, Martlag Longspeaker to Toreg and Trastara, and Lishadi the Harmonizer to Jorleg and Ribiza. And Shendon and his followers were happy.

Osgdagor wandered the wastes, mourning for the loss of his best friend, Szkarnadle, and for the loneliness of his heart. Osgdagor knew no joy.

Krakentiri and his gold dragons roamed skies of the world, seeking out signs of the dragons and Dragon Queens, routing them wherever they found them, and scattering them further into the wastelands of the World. Krakentiri and his followers knew pride in duties well-performed, but little true happiness.

Qnath settled down in a tower of his own construction, on the verge of the furthest edge of the World, not far from the Great Beyond. There he took quill to paper and began to write his Book of Ages, the first histories of the World, in the margins noting, in script only he could read, the eventual results of the actions of gods, angels, and dragons. He knew grim joy in doing that which he knew must be done.

Koram and Andara remained happily in the Vault of Heaven. At the end of the First Year was born their son, Suliir, the Sun-King. And thus on the first day of the Second Year of the World, creation first knew the difference between Day and Night, as the new-born Sun rose in the skies, a living symbol of the love of the Elder Gods for the World. And Koram and Andara and Suliir and the angels of the Vault of Heaven knew great joy.

Upon the first Sunrise, all the gods returned to the Vault of Heaven, most in joy at witnessing the birth of a new god. Osgdagor, however, returned in haste, covered in sweat and the filth of his wandering, for he thought perhaps the Dragon Primeval had returned. The other gods, upon seeing him, smiled behind their hands, such a sad sight was he, for he had taken to living as a beast of the wilds, for he had seen no other intelligent being during all his wanderings (even the dragons avoided him).

Upon his discovery that the Sun was another god, and not a manifestation of the Dragon Primeval, Osgdagor was most chagrined, and felt taken for a fool, as he saw the other gods smile and hear their whispers. But he ignored them, and his anger grew slowly.

Koram and Andara greeted their fellow gods, and the other newborn deities, and hosted a great fete, at which they named their son Suliir, an ancient name reflective of that of an ancient, long-lost Elder God.

And at the end of the fete, as the first Stars rose in the Night sky in honor of Elthoniel, Qnath again stood and called for the assembly of the Divine Council, for there were great and potent matters to discuss. The Council consisted of the following:

Qnath (As Eldest, he was the Chair)

And thus the number 14 has always been considered lucky to mortals, for it was at this council that 14 gods decided to create the Mortal Races; one god, Osgdagor, dissented in the final plan, and left the council in a fury.

It was decided that it was time to create the first mortal race. The difficulty was in deciding who would create the race; for though the gods could unite to make a new race, as they had molded the angels from the spirits of the World, it was felt that each god should have a say in the creation of his own race.

Qnath thought it meet that the races should be created in the order that the Elder Gods had tested the Cosmic Egg; all others, save Osgdagor, agreed. Osgdagor felt that he should be first to create a race, as Elthonell and Shendon already had their own Middle God followers, and Szkarnadle had had his chance and failed; thus he, who had neither followers nor remaining friends, should get to create his own race.

Overruled by the rest of the gods, Osgdagor fled the council chamber, and again set to wandering the world alone. Only this time, he sought out the secrets that Szkarnadle had discovered, and sought out the Dragon Queens and their brood, that he might learn the secrets they knew. Some say he also sought wisdom from Beyond, and returned from there an even more warped soul.

Meanwhile, during the second year of the World, Elthonell gathered together his needful things, meditated, consulted the other gods, and read through ancient tomes brought by Qnath from Beyond. At the end of the year he was satisfied he knew the full Secret of Creation, and so with a thought and a word, he pieced together the four elements native to the World, gathered them around native spirits of Fey sort (volunteers, not captives), and imbued them with a touch of his own divine essence. And thus were the first Elves created.

During that same year, he also dallied for a time with Kilotara, and from them were born the twin sisters, Leihos the Elf-Star and Flumon the Fey Moon. The Elf-Star rose in the sky, dancing around the Sun, upon the first moment the first elf, Annoc, opened his eyes. It is said that she danced for him and him only, until his smile set her in her firm course around the Great Star. The Fey Moon, the first moon, arose as the Elf-Star set; but its light was cold and lonely, as was she, for there was no mighty elf prince to smile upon her, for the first elves slept deep that night, after their full first day of revelry...

[The Realm] The Cosmic Egg and the Elder Gods

The Elder Gods came from Beyond Time and Space; on the First Day they found the Cosmic Egg at the center of Nothing.

On the Second Day Szkarnadle the First sought to eat the Egg, but it was too big; but he knew the taste of the Egg.

On the Third Day Elthonell All-Father thought to sing to the Egg, that it might sing back; if it did so, he was the only one to hear, and has said not what he heard.

On the Fourth Day Shendon All-Maker thought to carve the shell of the egg; his chisel carved beautiful things into the shell, and from it four pieces fell, that he collected and swept into his apron.

On the Fifth Day Osgdagor Orc-Father sought to shatter the Egg with his fists, but to no avail; it is said his hands were misshapen from this blasphemy, and thus were his creations, the orcs, also misshapen and unnatural to the World.

Finally, on the Sixth Day Koram Sky-King stopped and studied the Egg longer than the others; then with a smile he blew upon it, and it shattered, releasing the World.

Weary from their exertions, the Elder Gods rested on the Seventh Day, in the light of the splendor of the newly-created World.

After their day of rest, when they first went to explore the World, they were accosted by the Dragon Primeval, the first and largest dragon, the father of all dragon kind, the Father of Chaos. For a whole week the Elder Gods battled the Dragon Primeval, across the length and breadth of the world. Finally, Shendon All-Maker slew the Dragon with a final blow from his hammer, which burst the Dragon Primeval asunder.

The gods gathered together the remaining pieces of the Dragon Primeval, for they were potent with the Secret of Creation, and from them over a week's time Shendon forged six orbs, one each day, one for each Elder God and the sixth to be shared in kind. The five orbs were clear and filled with glittering light, as of great star rubies, emeralds, topazes, opals, and onyxes; the sixth was of pure shimmering gold.

On the seventh day of the third week of the World, the five elder Gods gathered together and as one touched the sixth golden orb, whereupon it cracked open and revealed itself to be not a mere orb, but instead an egg. Forth from the Golden Egg flew Krakentiri, the Great Gold Dragon, the Dragon of Law. And then the five elder gods were six in number, and they rejoiced. However, their joy was short lived, as Krakentiri’s first words were the Great Dragon Prophecy (aka the Lament of the Dragon Son):

Five Orbs ye have forged,
The Dragon Primeval to tame;
Five Orbs ye have forged,
Thy name to everlasting fame.

Five Orbs shall come together,
At the furthest end of Time;
And then, oh my Father,
Vengeance shall be Thine!

Thus in great sadness, for they all loved their jewels forged from the Dragon Primeval, the Elder Gods each hid their Dragon Orb in great secrecy, lest the five be brought together again, unmaking all that they had wrought. Since then the five Orbs have been found and lost numerous times, and actually brought together on no few occasions, however, each time the Orb wielders sought to use the power of the Orbs not to raise the Dragon Primeval, but to use their great powers to learn the Secret of Creation, for it is embedded within the five together. With this power, the wielder can Make or Unmake anything, though doing so even once causes the Orbs to fly away from each other to the five corners of the world, and the wielder to forget the Secret he had learned.

Some say this is the way that Morda the Dark Elf gained his great power, and is the origin of the Dungeon God or perhaps the Arcanadaemon; others say that it was an imperfect use of four of the Orbs that allowed Xyrmgnollven to create the gnoll race. Fortunately, those who have gathered the Orbs to date have either been too greedy, or sought only to do good deeds with the power, and the Dragon Primeval remains tamed within the Orbs.

Unbeknownst to the Elder Gods at the time, the Blood of the Dragon Primeval, which had fallen unto the lands of the World during their week-long battle, lived still, and wherever it fell, were dragons born. That which fell into the fiery mountains was reborn as red dragons; that which fell into shining wastes was reborn as blue dragons; that which fell into verdant forests and fields was reborn as green dragons; that which sunk into miasmal swamps was reborn as black dragons; and that which fell upon cold glacial ice was reborn as white dragons. Drips and drabs here and there were reborn as pocket drakes and pseudo-dragons, and other lesser dragonkind. The five greatest and most potent globs of gore fell into Places of Power, and there were reborn as the five Dragon Queens, mothers of the spectral dragons and the goddesses of all dragons born of Chaos...