Saturday, 3 March 2012

April A-Z preview: Shrines & cosmic powers of S'raka

I mentioned a while back that I was thinking about doing the April A-Z blogger challenge again this year, and that I was considering a theme of clerical spells. Well, the idea has now crystallised.

I'll be doing a write-up of 26 alphabetically named cosmic powers (gods, devils, demons, animal kings, etc) which have prominent shrines or temples in the city of S'raka, where our Labyrinth Lord campaign is based.

As a little preview, here's the kind of thing I'll be writing. (This won't be the H for April, there'll be another that day.)

The Forge-Shrine of Hegg, God of Blades

The southerly district of Irkham, known as a centre of industry – especially of smoke-belching steel works – is also home to the shrine of a cosmic power of some importance to adventurers. Hegg, the god of blades, has small shrines scattered throughout Old Aalia, but his central place of worship is in Irkham. At first glance, the place appears to be simply a series of small smithies and metal-crafting workshops arranged around a central plaza. However the presence of the 20' high statue of the cosmic power Hegg soon alerts visitors that this is no ordinary marketplace. Hegg is portrayed, in a scintillating metal of unknown origin, as a man skewered with hundreds of blades, and with arms held aloft as if in jubilation of the sky.

The devotees of Hegg are of several kinds. Firstly are the array of metalworkers who are bound as apprentices to the shrine from a young age, and spend their whole lives there perfecting the arts of blade-crafting. The blades of Hegg are known as some of the finest available, and are highly in demand, often being commissioned by noble houses. Secondly there are the blade-maidens, white linen-clad girls and women who oversee ritual sacrifices in a specially designated sub-shrine, and the processing of the resulting animal meats into especially fine sausages. The blade-maidens also offer a blessing and a close-shave for 1sp.

Lastly are the blade-blessed, those strange and few individuals who have devoted themselves not to the practical crafts patronised by the god of blades, but rather to the unusual spiritual pursuits which please him. Little is known by outsiders of the exact activities of these few seldom seen priests, but it is clear that they are regarded as the most beloved of Hegg, and are believed to conduct private rituals in the catacombs beneath the shrine. They can be recognised by the scars which cover their bodies and faces, and by their habit of wearing as little clothing as permitted by the season, presumably in order to further emphasise their scarification. Rumours tell that the blade-blessed practice a bizarre art of self-impalement, in imitation of their lord, and that they are granted wondrous visions while they lay skewered by sacred blades.

Apart from the mundane services of the blade-maidens and the craftsmen devoted to Hegg, the following more specialised services are available at the shrine.

Enchanted blades: The artisan smiths of the temple produce blades of exquisite quality whose craftsmanship is enhanced by being imbued with the cosmic power of Hegg. Such blades are +1 magical weapons. A dagger from the forge-shrine costs 500gp, a short sword 1,500gp and a long sword 2,000gp.

Spiritual weapon: By sacrificing a silver dagger and receiving the blessing of the shrine, the benefits of this spell may be gained. The dagger is translocated to the cosmic armoury of Hegg, but can be called upon in times of need (as per the spell) by invoking the name of the god of blades. This blessing costs 100gp, in addition to the cost of the dagger.

Bless blade: A special ritual which can be performed by the blade-blessed of the shrine bestows a temporary magical enchantment onto a bladed weapon. The ritual entails the blessing of a portion of the blood of a sacrificed animal (typically a lamb). The blood is placed into a metal tube, marked with the rune of Hegg, and should be applied to a bladed weapon to invoke the effects. The anointed blade gains +1 to hit and damage for one hour, and counts as a magical weapon. The ritual costs 80gp.

Blade divination: This more unusual and expensive ritual is not often performed, but is sometimes sought by adventurers who have come across magical weapons of unknown origin. The power of Hegg can be invoked to grant a vision giving details about the origins of and enchantment which lies upon a magical bladed weapon. As preparation for the ritual, the owner of the blade must spend three days of fasting in one of the underground sub-shrines. On the night of the third day the character must take part in a ritual with the blade-blessed. An intricate and intensely painful series of cuts is inflicted upon the bodies of all present – including the character, sending them into an altered state of consciousness. At the culmination of the process one of the priests plunges the blade into himself and enters into an ecstatic trance, during which he gains information about the enchanted blade. 1d4 facts about the blade are revealed by this ritual, typically including its “plus” to hit, if possessed. The ritual costs 750gp.

3 comments:

  1. Very nice stuff. I especially appreciate the blade-maidens making fine sausages and offering a close-shave for 1sp. I'd be all over that.

    One thing I noted about last year's A-Z blogs is the inevitability of a bunch of blogs hitting the same letter the same day, so that everyone's reaching for something on Q day, and so forth. Some folks did 26 blogs NOT in alphabetical order and that seemed to give them enough flexibility to keep it fun while writing. My 2cp, but either way if you put out posts like this it will be entertaining.

    Rock it.

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  2. Thanks Spawn!

    Re: Q: that's a big advantage of doing posts named after cosmic powers. Q, Z and even X are trivial; no scrabbling for obscure words or tenuous links required. Qualango, Zymbiolma, Xal, etc, etc...

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  3. Welcome to the A to Z Challenge, Gavin - sounds like you're organized! I hope you have a great time posting as well as visiting some of the many participants on the list.

    I laughed about Q, Z, and X - lucky you! Those are a "challenge" for most bloggers!

    Jenny @ Pearson Report
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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