But the darkness was vast, and the Sun could not illuminate all things. The world was made, but outside the world, the darkness remained. From behind what was lit, shadows were cast, and they stretched to the very edge(but no further) of true darkness and there were seized by a ruinous nostalgia for unbeing, and so the Sun was torn asunder. But the Shadows were illuminated by the light of the sundered Sun, and they became glowing Moons, and their moonlight, pale as it was, sustained the world, though much of it became shadowed and chill, and the forgotten First Sun's world grew strange indeed in the light of roaming moons.
|Yg-A incited to devour his fellow moons, shed Yg, and become Second Sun|
|Yg-A Becomes the Undersun|
|Towers from left|
High Elves, Svartalves, Ningen
And the world became as it once was, but different, dominated by elves, or so the serpents of Yg let them believe. The elves spun things of light and the tamed elements, until they tired of such things and spun stranger, more dangerous things from moonlight, until they too tired of that and began to spin things from shadows... and then, a single thing spun from Darkness itself. They could not understand what they had wrought, and the elves forgot what they were, mind, body, and soul, and the Svartalves below and the human Witch-Queens above stole the light of the Sorcerer Sun and trapped the warped fey inside the dark structure, and cut its tethers, sending it to roam as the Iron Moon.The moons and darkness closed in, but the stolen light was released once more, weakening the Witch-Queens and leaving the Svartalves to be swallowed by the darkness beneath their mountains. The released light coalesced as a mirror of men's souls, and thus was Riikhus, the Fourth Sun
|Big Head Gods- Riikhus, Mokkhus|
Lil gods- Lady of Gardens, Murulu, Kispiritis, Jackal then Horse god of Yuba
Also the burning remnants of high elf/witch queen society beneath the Iron Moon
|Moons Clockwise from left- Winter, Autumn, Spring, Skull|
Gods counterclockwise from left- Dying Riikhus, Rejoicing M'shesh, appalled Lumar
|5th sun, assorted moons, cultist on a hill|
Widespread Religious Understandings
|If you're inside the black ring you're in the Noonlands and don't have to worry about Moons|
The black ring encompassed Sarkomand's Faults a century or two ago because the 4th sun was brighter than the current one
Worshipper Goals- Trust in the sun, spite the moons, shun the darkness. Knowledge is power, and what is unlit is unknown.
Death Expectations- Become one with the Sun, strengthening the light and opposing the darkness as a united, transcendent whole. Dream-realms and afterlives where souls maintain individuality are ignorant of their true potential as sparks of the divine sun.
tl;dr- Fedora-tipping nerd wizards scared of the dark
The Undersun- Yg-A lives and writhes, far below, shrouded in magma in the bowels of the earth. The convulsing ur-wyrm fans heat into the flame degenerate and consumes souls, or heat, in his endless hunger, but his flame is too his prison. Fire is an excellent servant but a poor master, and those serving the burning below have no guidance, only flame and more flame. The Undersun is rediscovered again and again, and misunderstood again and again, and so every new cult is different. Especially in the Moonlands, where the Sun does not shine, the reliable heat and flame from below draws human adulation in lands otherwise locked in chaos and darkness. All that burns is an offering to the Undersun.
Worshipper Goals- Variable. Death cults where people get thrown into volcanoes are just as common as people who simply use a volcano for heat and light in a frosty Moonland.
Death Expectations-Variable, but the ultimate end of those who align themselves (or rather, their elemental covenant) will find themselves transformed into beings of fire that dwell in the depths, drawn towards the Undersun but unable to bypass the maze of stone and lava. "Demon" is a popular term used for these flaming chthonic souls when discovered hundreds of years later by people with different moral outlooks.
tl;dr- volcano sacrifices
|The players never did find their way into the warped mirror world variant of the first level of Sarkomand's Fault's megadungeon and so Lumar was p much toppest secret even though she was 'meant' to be a fairly big deal that campaign.|
But I didn't force it and it was fine. Moral of the story, don't force the story.
Lumar is everywhere there is light to reflect from things, everywhere there are souls to dream, but she does not exist within the 'real' world, a secondhand existence of perception, not reality. Her servants are less of a cult and more of a conspiracy that infects existing cults and social structures, their actions tipped towards the obfuscation of knowledge. Riikhus opposed her and knew not why, and now the knowledge-loving Heleognostics do too.
Worshipper Goals & Death Expectations- Those who serve Lumar are typically unaware they are doing so, as Lumar can imitate anything. The mirror realms and dream realms that are her domain are open to the living, so perhaps the dead souls of Lumar continue their work anonymously.
Yg- Mother of serpents. She is older than elves, older than dragons, yea, older than the word "god," and certainly wiser than them all. A snake content to watch over snakes, the one god she opposes is Lumar, for Yg seeks to know all, and perhaps one day, swallow all. But for now, she tends to her snake daughters(Snake sons are hopeless, alas) and coils in the deep dark earth and the deep dark sea and the deep dark sky, encircling this world so much tinier than she remembers, and she waits. Stars blink more often than she. Yg is not a god of mammals, and they must shed their skins to become snakelike to gain access to her venerable knowledge, though wise humans do not meddle with snakes regardless, lest they draw Yg's ire. Unlike the torchbearing Heleognostics, Yg knows that darkness holds knowledge as well.
tl;dr- osr snakepeople
Moon Cultists The moons are ancient facts of life outside the Noonlands, and bring life and light, albeit in twisted form. There are a thousand moons, each with some moonlit cult out in the darkness. The 4 greatest ones, that ventured into the very Noonlands to devour Riikhus, have the most prominent cults.
|i love this image for Skull so much|
one day I'll find the source
Skull- A skull of a murdered god, resting in a moon shaped like a broken and empty shell, maimed long ago by Yg-A and still fearful of the touch of flame and sunlight. Undead, created not via a soul piloting a body in violation of the elemental covenant, but stolen bodies operating with the soulless light of Skull, the elemental covenant hijacked to steal the heat, life, and souls of other creatures and offer it to Skull. The undead of Skull are always human, but certainly not people, and know only hunger and violence. Skull cults (AKA Skults) slowly take the light of skull into their body to replace their souls in a bid for immortal undeath, and do so via the slaughter of the more 'traditionally alive' and self-mutilation. The end result, a Lich, has an artificial soul composed of Skull-light that behaves very differently to warm souls which continue life in various underworlds. Heleologians claim that Liches, like all skull undead, are not the same person as the lost soul, simply an evil copy, while Skulltists are certain that the continuous consciousness ensures it is a transfiguration of themselves, not a replacement.
tl;dr- these are the necromancers and undead you CAN'T play as
Spring and Autumn- The life of these moons at first appears quite similar to typical birds, plants, and bugs, but quickly become something else. Toxic, spined, perfumed. Autumn harvests the hard elements of the earth with bronze birds, iron butterflies, and steel magnolias, and Spring the cycle of life via delicious fruits, bugs, and birds as lures, and fruits bugs and birds that find you delicious. The cults of these twin moons range from experimental hippie types, to biologists-gone-wild, to ravenous maenads. The end result is all that matters- the thorn forests and flower jungles sprout up, and then the winged beings spawned from them return to the moons with all they have harvested from the world, adding themselves and all they have to the mass of the moons, which, on close inspection, appear to be scapes of petrified beings slowly consdensing into the bulk of the moon.
Worshipper Goals- Party hard. Follow the moons, whatever it takes. The drugged/poisoned fluids of the moonspawned lotus-jungles are without compare. Also you can get resurrected as a plant or bug mimic-clone in certain seedpods or cocoons, so you can party really hard.
tl;dr maenads and instant off-climate magic jungles
Winter- In the border Noonlands, winter is understood as chilly times when cold weather blows in from elsewhere. In the Moonlands, it is understood that Winter is a moon whose light is fearful enough while obscured by its frozen clouds, and should they ever part, the land below will be flash frozen into an ice age. Noonland "winter" is basically just a feeble, distant shockwave of these events. Winter is why the world out where there's not even reliable moonlight is an uninhabitable frozen wasteland of black glaciers grinding ancient forgotten civilizations to rubble and why you sometimes find animals that are 3 times bigger, hairer, and fangier than 'normal' animals.
Worshipper Goals- The worshippers of Winter are disgruntled doomsday preppers, essentially, certain that the world will, sooner or later, become a frozen wasteland where the strong eat the weak and pacts with vile spirits will have to be struck for survival as mortal civilization collapses, and after our so called "King" elected Sleeny Alazneer as Chancellor of Finance, the end of the world can't happen soon enough I tell you wot. Some of these nasty fellows even raid and pillage preemptively whenever the weather gets cold. These people, who adopt names like 'cold-eyes' or 'sons of winter' and so on, are not to be confused with 'bandits' who typically have more relatable reasons for being assholes.
tl;dr dire cave animals and instant off-climate ice age survival
LOCAL GODS- If there is a local god in your vicinity, you are well advised to leave offerings at their shrine. This is less worship and more of a 'please don't mess up my face' fee and while it generally won't give you any divine favor, it may at least take certain angry spiritual-servitor-things, weather disasters, and so on off encounter tables and similar low-impact probability tweaking. There is no hard limit on the use of the word 'god,' here it pretty much means 'any being powerful enough that it's basically a faction all on its own.' What's a faction? Well, that's a matter of scale, innit? What might be a 'God' to a village might barely quantify as 'big monster' to an empire.
|The whole island is the corpse of the dragon-turned-god Ebeth, you see|
Arrkohn- But the brightest lights cast the deepest shadows, and Ebeth had a shadow too. Preaching self interest, not generosity, the dragon-cults of Arrkohn the Black serve themselves and themselves alone. They believe even the altruism of Ebeth was just a self-serving act to satisfy Ebeth's golden ego, and will prove to the world that true altruism does not exist, only things that people Want and Need. It's not 100% clear if Arrkohn is an actual thing or just something that dragons co-opt to jumpstart dragon-cults as a gold-gaining scheme.
These two dragon-gods are a player-suggested contribution, not my OC.
|The moonlands are more ruin than civilization. Without the order-imposing light of a sun, the chaotic forces of moonlight and darkness quickly erode the stability of mortal civilization.|
Worshipper Goals- Follow your dreams, protect those you love.
Death Expectations- As a 'mere' human the afterlife she sustains is relatively small- a ship, captained by herself, and crewed by all her adherents, sailing the seas of the world.
Kispiritis-Though it was confirmed he escaped the god-devouring moons that ate Riikhus aboard a ship called Sea Serpent, property of a snakeman called Shukra, Kispiritis was never seen again, presumably having run afoul of a sea-entity greater than himself in the chaos of the Riikhite pantheon collapse. However, worship of him still persists in the form of offerings to the sea, made by pirates to find prey and by merchants to escape piracy. Some say that these offerings simply go to the Ningen, but whose to say those giant sea-people don't appreciate it, eh, eh?
Lord of Calamities- Titanic half-buried half-alive demon-god who grants mutations as a sign of favor and natural disasters and plague as a sign of disfavor, with some overlap. Lives out in the Wurderlands around a dark city best described as "permanently Halloween." This calamitous lord is actually the Goddess Murulu, once a slave of Riikhus and one who found beauty in all things, even things like deformities, scars, and so on.
Worshipper Goals-Find the beauty in all things. And in yourself, awwww. Honestly there's no great ideology going on here, Murulu offers freaky mutations and acceptance for the weird of the world, smites people who spurn her blessings, and slowly shapes the world to be more to her unusual aesthetic preferences.
Death Goals- Reincarnate as a freaky monster. Or at least as yourself +1 mutation if you're a square.
|Campaign #2, Wolf Moons|
Worshipper Goals- Live orderly lives where everything is in its place, functioning smoothly. Social mobility is not encouraged, and her realms are heavily feudal.
Death Goals- Carry on with social niceties, but in a properly tended necropolis-afterlife mirroring the real world.
|Isfrix has only one facial expression|
Worshipper Goals- stick it to (hated person, group, or thing).
Death Expectations- Suffer in the hell of Isfrix until you get kicked out(Isfrix hates company more than being alone, usually, because there's more to hate about something than there is to hate about nothing). As far as Hells go, by all accounts Isfrix's isn't so bad. As he hates everything, there's not much there save for a few dickish spirits (collectively known as Hatecubi due to an absolute bastardization of linguistics) and maybe some extremely inoffensive terrain that has nonetheless been blasted with hate-lasers and reduced to a cratered waste. Yeah, while Isfrix does subtle curses like Dead Man's Pennies, which trash your saves and attract disease spirits and can't be gotten rid of except by slipping them to someone you hate, Isfrix also just tries to hate things to death directly via eye-lasers.
A somewhat more indirect player contribution, this one. Pretty much everything but the name was me, but all the same.
Ibn Haur- Headless head-swapping god of Saresare. Treated as weird combination of folk hero and celebrity more than a being of worship because Saresare is a place more concerned about The Law, but Ibn Haur is a sort of antiquated animal-man hybrid-trickster figure that used to be a big deal back before Saresare had their agricultural revolution. That was like, 3rd sun times. It's a miracle the old boy is still kicking.
The Law, an offshoot of Heliognosticism endemic to Saresare, longtime rival of Mercia and joint plunderer of Yuba, that focuses more on the order of the world (and society) than the Heliognostic sun exaltation. Go read The Nightmares Underneath for the sort of implied overview of this, I ain't getting into it here.
Worshipper Goals- Get super rich via sacrificing blood to gold and super tough by sacrificing gold for blood, use your physical and financial power to get even MORE rich before it's time to build your tomb in the Golden Sepulchre (a mighty tomb-complex), have a palace stocked with slaves waiting for you in the Hell of Janus
Death Goals- Enjoy your opulent slave palace in the Hell of Janus, don't end up a slave yourself in post-death power struggles with already established hell-lords, something that conveniently went unmentioned in church teachings.
Another player contribution, this guy.
|Ebeth is off to the right, and that area to the left is Lungfungus' Fassulia that I stuck on there to playtest. It's a good intermediate zone between Oroboro and Saresare.|
The Jackal God of Yuba-Once a slave of Riikhus, now empowered by faithful for the second coming of the Sorcerer Kingdom of Yuba. Yuba eats the hearts of her enemies and the blood of invaders warms the feet of the Yubans, and the Unchained Jackal howls at the moon for the loss of their friendly rival the Horse God. Yuban priests are polytheistic and pay tribute to a lot of lesser local gods (slandered as 'demons' by the foreign nations of Mercia and Saresare), but the Jackal God is their goodest boy and they give him priority.
Worshipper Goals- Be nice to dogs. Teach dogs to be nice to you. Eat the hearts of your enemies so they are reincarnated as dogs to assist you in your next life. Also, #freeyuba
Death Expectations- Dogs that are good get reincarnated as people, and vice versa.
tl;dr-anubis but as the sole survivor of his pantheon. The other member was
The Horse God of Yuba- Once a slave of Riikhus, devoured along with him. A god of friendship and peace, now a hole in Yuba's pantheon that the Jackal God is at a loss to fill.
tl;dr- they dead. But as an aside I found amusing, a player of mine who adopted aspects of my campaign for their own had a player who took the Horse God as their deity of choice to hang their bronyism upon. In retrospect, the horse+friendship should've been obvious, but still that's a funny interpretation and if players have a misunderstanding about a god I think you should encourage rather than correct it, and just have there be offshoot branches and so on.
T'liki- Trickster chaos gambling god, sealed away in Lumar's dream-realm that cloaks Sarkomand's Fault, stand-in for the RNG of the game itself, mentioned before here and here (
But one night I was working on prep in the roll20 game room and his image showed up somehow, but overlaying the horizontal scrollbar!
|Just look at that smug bastard in the bottom left, overlapping the scrollbar and not even being a part of the image|
how the heck even
Mokkhus-Once Riikhus's cold brother, of death but not undeath, an accountant in aspect and a taskmaster to the enslaved gods. Mokkhus was thought lost in the War In The Sky, and current Mokkhites are now a clammy, aging cult with ghost-powered clockwork golems seeking to recover the sundered pieces of Riikhus from the Moonlands so that a ressurrected Riikhus can heal/find Mokkhus and re-enslave all these upstart godlings into a unified pantheon again.
tl;dr- emo steampunk
Worshipper Goals- Reignite the good old days with the good old sun
Demand obeisance and servitude from any so called 'god'
Death Expectations- Wander the earth as spirits until they can get a new body since the afterlife of Mokkhus and Riikhus collapsed 100 years ago. Alternately build a nice tomb to spend their afterlife in.
They do not know that their clockwork contraptions are but an idle experiment by an imposter older than this 5-sun drama and Mokkhus himself is long slain, his skull adorning an ancient Moon.
M'shesh- Mother of the undead, seeking to undo Death itself, to end pain and suffering forever. She does not understand the Elemental Covenant (though lets be fair, no one has really understood it since Second Sun) and is preoccupied by trying to minimize suffering as she shoves her faithful souls into unsuitable, damaged bodies. She is unwittingly sequestered away in Lumar's Dream where her second attempt at an undead-society can operate unbothered by the real world, but her whispering black wind slips through to other dreams in other lands and so M'shesh worship exists in isolated pockets. As she still has a bad rap from the bad portrayal pushed by the Riikhus-crusades a century or two ago and association with Skull makes people leery of undead, peaceful M'sheshan undead keep to themselves.
Worshipper Goals- Kill nothing, cause no pain to any creature, shamelessly abandon vows of pacifism in self-defense of your life because those who deal death are welcome to it
Death Goals- Re-inhabit bodies to continue a blameless life. If no bodies are available, one will be dragged around in M'shesh's arms like so many rag dollies as she treads the grey nether realm between worlds.
tl;dr- these are necromancers and undead you CAN play as.