I thought I'd start writing a series of posts giving snippets of background info about the world my Labyrinth Lord campaign is set in. I've not explicitly invented much background info so far, aside from a few rough maps and some daydreamed ideas, but I thought the campaign and the players would benefit from some imagery. So, first up, a new twist on an old enemy.
The Swine-folk of Old Aalia
The wide and prosperous kingdom of Aalia was remarked for its proliferation of animal deities. Indeed, the capital city of Allam, in the south of the kingdom, was known more for its vast complex of temples than it was for the royal palaces and courts from which the country was ruled.
The temple complexes of Allam were aptly named -- complex. The animal gods demanded a bizarre, shifting pattern of observances, feast days and rites, including the constant and seemingly random shifting of the location of the various temples. Thus a high priest of Lax-Manna, the jackal mother, could awake one morning to the presence of his deity, and the instruction that a shifting of dominions in the spirit world meant that her nexus of power now lay in the temple of the serpent god, and that the temples must be switched with all haste. Such occurrences were common and completely unforewarned.
The priests were adept in making the arrangements with the required stoicism and swiftness, but inevitably mistakes happened on occasion. One such mistake led to the downfall of the kingdom of Aalia.
The feast-day of Babu-Ham, lord of pigs, fell on the fifth day after the sixth new moon of the year -- a benevolently regular date, by the standards of the animal gods of Aalia. To this day it is unknown whether the pig god himself demanded a bizarre new rearrangement of the temples on the very morn of his feast-day -- some believe, in retrospect, that a trickster god was at play. But whatever the impetus, the priesthoods of Allam were in thrown into a maelstrom of action that morning, as practically every temple in the city was decreed to be moved.
It so happened that during the shifting of the temples, a visiting prince from the far north of the kingdom had seen fit to make a great and noble sacrifice to the raptor god Had-Kallat -- the slaughter of six hundred fattened and anointed pigs. It also so happened that the temple of Had-Kallat had been decreed as the new location of the temple of the pig god. Thus, as the pig lord manifested at the altar of his new temple he was confronted with a sight the likes of which no pig-god should see. (Bizarrely, the priests of Babu-Ham had, through great cunning, deceived their god for centuries, hiding from him the fact that pigs were routinely kept as beasts of slaughter in many parts of the kingdom.)
The rage of the god was great. His vengeance was greater. Few had suspected the power he held, in fact, and even fewer lived to tell the story of the massacre of Allam by the cosmic forces of Babu-Ham. His wrath did not end in Allam however. An army of pig-demons swept across the whole of Aalia, burning settlements, and roasting their inhabitants on the flames, to be eaten in hideous orgies of violence and gluttony. The kingdom was crushed, and its human inhabitants reduced to a scattering of wanderers.
Needless to say, Babu-Ham has never trusted humankind since that day, and the few ruined shrines devoted to him which can still be found are places of danger and fear. His final act of parting, on the day of the desolation of the last city of old Aalia, was the creation of the race of swine-folk. He decreed that pig-kind should never again be kept as slaves, and spontaneously all domesticated pigs in the kingdom were transformed into a humanoid shape, so as to be able to defend themselves from the wickedness of human beings.
That was some centuries back, and the kingdom of Aalia is no more, existing now only as a name and a huge number of crumbling ruins in the great plains of its former expanse. The swine-folk have remained, however, and roam the plains of old Aalia in great numbers. Wherever they are found, humans make themselves scarce -- the animosity between the two races has not abated. And, in a twist of vengeance, the favoured food of the swine-folk is human flesh.
The swine-folk are known deridingly as 'porks', by men who like to brag about their battles and encounters with the beings.