Jhesiri God: Natlot, Battlesinger, Lethal Dancer

Natlot is an anomaly among the jhesiri deities. Most jhesiri deities are savage and undiscerning, but Natlot is pragmatic and efficient in combat.

His followers are the same, carefully choosing their enemies for the benefit to be gained in killing them and then doing so in as efficient a manner as possible. This is not the same as being cautious; a Natlotian worshipper or priest is quite comfortable risking his life in a stunning display of martial artistry if it can bring enough glory and lead to greater slaughter of the enemy.

Natlot

Battlesinger, Lethal Dancer

Alignment Neutral

Portfolios Flamboyant grace in combat, fluid movement, derring-do

Domains Glory, Destruction, Fire, Madness, Death

Favored Weapon Heart-Seeker (artifact rapier)

Artifacts Hearts-Blood (rapier; keen, heartseeking, glorious, vorpal [piercing weapon stabs to the heart rather than chops off the head])

Herald TBD

Greater Ally TBD

Ally TBD

Lesser Ally TBD

Alternate Channeling Choose at the time of channeling:

  • Creatures gain a channel bonus on weapon damage and critical hit confirmation until the end of your next turn [Battle/Wrath variant channeling, ‘heal’ option]
  • You may channel as part of a successful critical hit to add a bleed effect equal to the number of channel dice [Murder variant channeling, ‘heal’ option, modified]
  • Creatures may not take attacks of opportunity until the end of your next turn [Strategy variant channeling, ‘harm’ option]

Identification

Appearance Unusually tidy and presentable goblin with precise movement and grace, clothes show ostentatious repairs where someone managed to wound him.

Symbol Rapier with a heart impaled on it

Manifestations Serendipitous opportunity in battle for a precise strike, unexpected avoidance of precise strike or ambush

Legends The Deepest Scar, Dance of Days

Relationships

Friendly Ramdzasha, Yakhar, Hadang Samptar

Enemy Pretty much all non-goblin.

Mixed Arak-Zoth, Ravena, other goblin gods, other goblin tribes

Religion

Worshippers Dervishes, bards, assassins, duelists

Temples Other deity’s temples, desecrated with the temples’ priests pinned with weapons to key points (altar, nave, idol, etc.), until the priests die of their wounds.

Shrines Anywhere a worshipper of another deity or an innocent is pinned with a weapon, after death, as long as the dead remained pinned with the weapons that killed them.

Altars Anywhere a worshipper of another deity or an innocent is pinned with a weapon, until death.

Holy Sites Anywhere an act of precision violence (assassination, successful raid, battleground where one side was exterminated) has taken place.

Priests Bards (Dervish archetype especially), assassins (prestige class or dedicated precision killer), successful duelists.

Priest Appearance ‘Duelist-appropriate’ clothing (snug and allowing movement, at the least, may be flamboyant as long as it is serviceable in a fight).

Priest Training Jhesiri (and sometimes others) who practice deadly precision in fighting, alertness for optimum opportunity, and so on, are invited by the rare Natlotian priest to take training. This training is a mix of dedicated martial training, movement and agility (Perform (Dance), Acrobatics, etc.), and similar. Many become bards (with dervishes being unusually common), others end up moving toward the silent arts (many Shadowdancers, compared to the number of priests).

Dogma Take every advantage, give up nothing without expecting advantage in return, you live most when death is closest, leave none living behind.

Rituals Mostly around preparing for combat, each battle is seen as a ritual itself and a sacrifice (of others) to Natlot.

Prayers “Another to your glory!” “Death guides my arm!”

Natlot and Hadang Samptar are unlikely allies. One focuses on skill and precision in combat, achieving maximum gain for minimal effort, while the other is an indiscriminate slaughterer. In both cases, though, the goal is to destroy the target. Where Hadang Samptar’s followers aim to simply kill everything because it’s easier, and burn the things that cannot be killed, Natlot’s followers are more selective in their targets, removing those that will make it easier to defeat their enemies. The followers of Hadang Samptar will simply attack and kill, the followers of Natlot will infiltrate encampments and assassinate critical figures, seek out leaders on the battlefield, and likewise efficiently remove lynchpins in the enemies’ troops.

As an aspect of Ramdzasha, Natlot’s herald and allies can be used by Ramdzasha. The converse is not true, since Ramdzasha’s other heralds and allies are drawn from her other aspects.

Like Ramdzasha’s temples and holy sites, Natlot’s’s temples and holy sites are opportunistic and temporary, empowered by death and destruction.

Elemental Tetratheon, First Analysis

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

As I assigned domains to the sites on this polyhedron I started having ideas about how to interpret the results. I had started with the idea of four ‘elemental poles’ to the pantheon. The normal relationships between the elements (Air opposes Earth, Fire opposes Water) don’t seem to apply; if you were to project the polyhedron onto a sphere the elemental domains are assigned to equidistant points. That is, each domain is equally opposed to each of the other three.

I want to play on that. Each site with an elemental domain represents a major deity, but these deities have fewer domains than the nominally lesser deities. I realized that if I treat the adjacent faces as aspects of the major gods then each major god, through its aspects, grants direct or indirect access to thirteen domains.

That seems ‘major enough’ to me. There will be some slight overlap in domain assignments between the different deities, around the edges, but that should be fine.
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Elemental Tetratheon, The Crunchy Bits

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

The elemental tetratheon is a pantheon for a larger, older culture that has discovered more concerns than the goblins. However, it is based on a small number of major gods, each with three aspects, and a slew of lesser gods that have narrower responsibilities.

Creating the Elemental Tetratheon

The polyhedral pantheon process can be summarized quite simply.

  1. Choose a polyhedron.
  2. Assign a domain to each point and face.
  3. Group domains for each god.
  4. Determine the ‘chosen weapon’ of each god.

This provides all the information needed to use the gods in play. There is no setting-specific information here, but it is enough for a cleric to choose her god and domains.

Let’s begin.
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Jhesiri God: Hadang Samptar, Razing Hunter, Wandering Ravager

Of all the jhesiri gods, the aspects of Ramdzasha, Hadang Samptar epitomizes his worshipers. Alone of the the jhesiri gods he actually is worshiped by his followers because his demands align so well with their nature.

Hadang Samptar

Razing Hunter, Wandering Ravager

Alignment chaotic evil

Portfolios Rampage, senseless destruction, pillage and razing

Domains Travel, Destruction, Evil, Fire, Chaos

Favored Weapon Hearth-Wrecker (artifact battle axe)

Artifacts Hearth-Wrecker (battle axe; anarchic, corrosive, vicious)

Herald TBD

Greater Ally TBD

Ally TBD

Lesser Ally TBD

Alternate Channeling Choose at the time of channeling:

  • Creatures gain a channel bonus on attack and damage rolls against objects, CMB for sunder attempts, and Strength checks to break objects until the end of your next turn [Destruction variant channeling, ‘heal’ option]
  • Spray of acid: Affected creatures who fail their saves suffer ongoing damage (treat as ‘set on fire’) [Fire variant channeling, ‘harm’ option, modified]
  • Creatures are sickened until the end of your next turn, plus a number of rounds equal to your channel penalty. At cleric level 10, you may select one creature to be nauseated in addition to the effects of the channeled energy. [Pain variant channeling, ‘harm’ option]

Identification

Appearance Ragged, manically-grinning goblin riding a scruffy one-eyed worg and wielding a jagged axe dripping acid.

Symbol An acid-dripping axe, a one-eyed wolf.

Manifestations House (especially home) fires, collapsing buildings and other structures.

Legends Sack of Shendaoine, How Horlwulf Lost His Eye

Relationships

Friendly Ramdzasha, Yakhar, Natlot

Enemy Pretty much all non-goblin.

Mixed Arak-Zoth, Ravena, other goblin gods, other goblin tribes

Religion

Worshippers ‘Default god’ of jhesiri (Ramdzasha is a greater god, but more distant… even the jhesiri are glad of that). No particular name, since ‘follower of Hadang Samptar’ and ‘jhesiri’ is seen as so synonymous.

Temples As Ramdzasha, plus burning houses (especially if normal inhabitants are still alive – bonus to any ceremonies).

Shrines As Ramdzasha, plus any burned building (not necessary to still be burning, nor necessarily a house) until the smell of char is gone.

Altars As Ramdzasha.

Holy Sites Razed settlement, whether by jhesiri hands or not, until rebuilt or overgrown.

Priests Barbarians (especially with the Madman archetype).

Priest Appearance Usually battle-scarred, often slightly maimed (missing bits), often some burn scars from fire or acid. Priests are the most fervent destroyers and enjoy getting close to their work.

Priest Training As Ramdzasha, and those jhesiri who take particular delight in ravaging the countryside find they sometimes gain divine abilities (gain cleric levels, and/or the barbarian class with the Madman archetype).

Dogma Always wander, never stay in one place more than one moon or return to a place within a year, take what you want and destroy or spoil the rest, propitiate me with the screams of the burning alive or join them.

Rituals Simple and violent, involving burning things alive that can scream.

Prayers “Enjoy the flames, the smell of the burning flesh, the screams of the dying, the coughs of the smoke-filled throats!” “Flames and death!”

Hadang Samptar epitomizes the outsiders’ view of jhesiri: marauding vandals and murderers who kill for fun and pleasure. This deity cares little for the lives of anyone, including his followers, and will goad his worshippers to greater atrocities just to hear the screams and enjoy the smell of melting, burning flesh.

As an aspect of Ramdzasha, Hadang Samptar’s herald and allies can be used by Ramdzasha. The converse is not true, since Ramdzasha’s other heralds and allies are drawn from her other aspects.

Like Ramdzasha’s temples and holy sites, Hadang Samptar’s temples and holy sites are opportunistic and temporary, empowered by death and destruction.

Jhesiri God: Ramdzasha, The Five-Headed, Feeds on Devastation

Not all that surprisingly, the ‘Crunchy Bits’ are the simple part. Fleshing them out and providing more detail takes longer but I think provides more grist for application in play.

The initial work on the pantheon took about an hour. The initial detail of each god takes me about an hour more, not counting finding heralds and allies. I feel heralds should be unique, and going through the monster books (four bestiaries, Tome of Horrors, Green Ronin’s Advanced Bestiary because the templates can make otherwise non-outsiders appropriate choices) is very time-consuming. I’ll look into finding — or building — a better tool for narrowing my search. For now I’ll leave those fields blank.

In the meantime, I’ll try to post a god each day this week. The jhesiri follow (propitiate) the six gods of destruction in the goblin pantheon. Ramdzasha is the primary goddess of destruction and head of the jhesiri gods, and the other gods of the jhesiri are seen as her aspects. All jhesiri priests are ultimately priests of Ramdzasha, but almost all through the aspects rather than the goddess herself.

Ramdzasha

The Five-Headed, Feeds on Devastation

Alignment chaotic evil

Portfolios Armageddon, random warfare, delight in senseless destruction, hatred, rage.

Domains Destruction (Catastrophe, Rage), Strength, Water, Glory, Travel, Sun

Favored Weapon Land-Breaker (dire flail), Undying Heart (ring)

Artifacts Special items associated with the deity.

Herald None known; uses heralds of her aspects as needed.

Greater Ally None known; uses greater allies of her aspects as needed.

Ally None known; uses allies of her aspects as needed.

Lesser Ally None known; uses lesser allies of her aspects as needed.

Alternate Channeling Choose at the time of channeling:

  • Unattended objects take full channel damage (not half) [Destruction variant channeling, ‘harm’ option]
  • Affected creatures gain a channel bonus on Strength-based attacks, combat maneuver checks, Strength-based skills, and Strength checks until the end of your next turn [Strength variant channeling, ‘heal’ option]
  • Creatures are dazzled for 1 minute; creatures with light blindness or light sensitivity are blinded instead of dazzled [Sun variant channeling, ‘harm’ option]

Identification

Appearance Hideous, multi-faced and multi-limbed monstrosity; faces and limbs change over time as she regenerates aspects after sending them to torment the world.

Symbol Ring of five mutilated faces (or heads, if available)

Manifestations Things breaking unexpectedly, random senseless accidental injury or violent death.

Legends Sundering the Day Star (the first eclipse), Piercing the Undying Heart (how a god’s heart was torn out and made an artifact ring)

Relationships

Friendly Her aspects (Hadang Samptar, Arak-Zoth, Ravena, Natlot, Yakhar), those seeking vengeance or destruction.

Enemy Everyone sensible.

Mixed Other goblin gods (thwart when possible, propitiate when not).

Religion

Worshippers jhesiri, madmen, barbarians. Not organized enough to have honorifics or formal titles, individuals may be powerful enough to compel the use of whatever titles they want.

Temples Any temple to another god will serve, once desecrated, at least until the stench of burned and rotting flesh subsides.

Shrines Five hacked at and burned heads arranged in a circle facing outward (focus of the shrine), matching bodies impaled around it. Only five needed, one for each aspect, but more are not uncommon. Shrine is empowered until the dead are laid to rest.

Altars As shrine focus.

Holy Sites Sites of destruction (lightning-blasted trees, blackened remains after a forest fire, former settlement after flooding, or better a tsunami).

Priests All priests of Ramdzasha’s aspects are considered priests of Ramdzasha.

Priest Appearance Typically scarred, maimed, or mutilated by their rites or the consequences of their actions. Often carry (poorly-)preserved remnants of their enemies (and themselves)

Priest Training “Self-taught”: hatred gnaws at the heart of the potential priest until there is room for one of Ramdzasha’s aspects to force its way in.

Dogma Desecrate the temples of all gods, as they will fall before me. Slay all and lay their heads before me. Wander the world and devastate all you find, spoiling for others’ use.

Rituals Always blood and death and dismemberment. The dead are defiled, the living are maimed.

Prayers “Take this one in my place, so I can destroy for you here!” (sounds more impressive in goblin)

Ramdzasha originally worked out to be neutral (no alignment domains). After I had decided to make the other deities aspects of Ramdzasha I decided that she should be the sum of her parts. This led to my assigning a chaotic evil alignment and the rest started to fall into place.

As might be expected of the jhesiri gods, they are not builders but destroyers. They do not build temples or other holy sites, instead co-opting the ruined and destroyed holy places of others. These places are only usable for a time, usually the time it takes for destruction and decay to complete, before new places must be ‘made’.

As aspects of Ramdzasha, all the jhesiri gods can use holy places of Ramdzasha in addition to those more suitable to the aspects, and vice-versa.

Ramdzasha’s aspects are:

  • Hadang Samptar, Razing Hunter, Wandering Ravager (CE; Travel, Destruction, Evil, Fire, Chaos; rampage, senseless destruction, pillage and razing).
  • Arak-Zoth, The Burning Eye (TN; Sun, Destruction, Madness, Air, Trickery).
  • Ravena, Devourer of the Fen (TN; Water, Destruction, Plant, Air, Earth).
  • Natlot, Singer of Battle, Lethal Dancer (TN; Glory, Destruction, Fire, Madness, Death).
  • Yakhar, Wild Avenger, Nature’s Wrath (NE; Strength, Destruction, Evil, Plant, Animal).

These are still works in progress, but I’ve almost got Hadang Samptar ready for posting.

Goblin Pantheon, The Crunchy Bits

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

The jhesiri and the hilljacks are a couple groups of teratic goblins in a campaign I am working on. They share a pantheon, and I thought I would use it as an example in my upcoming book Echelon Explorations: Polyhedral Pantheons.

In these articles I will demonstrate how I create and flesh out their pantheon using the guidelines from Polyhedral Pantheons. This article describes the ‘crunchy part’ and covers the game-mechanical stage. The next article will describe the ‘fluffy part’, the world building that happens after.

Creating the Goblin Pantheon

The polyhedral pantheon process can be summarized quite simply.

  1. Choose a polyhedron.
  2. Assign a domain to each point and face.
  3. Group domains for each god.
  4. Determine the ‘chosen weapon’ of each god.

This provides all the information needed to use the gods in play. There is no setting-specific information here, but it is enough for a cleric to choose her god and domains.

Let’s begin.
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Polyhedral Pantheons Book Outline

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

I’ve learned more about the Polyhedral Pantheons methods than I knew when I started exploring the ideas. It’s time to organize, polish, and publish more formally.

I aim to have it out next week. The working outline is:

  • Introduction
  • Process (Crunch-Oriented)
    • Glossary (point, face, edge, node)
    • Domain Allocation
      • Subdomains
      • Hybrid Domains
      • Exalted Domains
  • Fleshing Things Out (Fluff-Oriented)
    • Portfolios
    • Portfolio vs. Domain
    • Alternate Channeling
    • Adapting Paladin Codes
    • Religious Dress
  • Polyhedral Examination
    • d12, d20 Dual
    • d6, d8 Dual
    • d4
    • d10, 2d10
    • Alternate d8 (d10-style)
  • Sample Pantheons
  • Appendices
    • Worksheets
    • Domain Lists (with sources)
      • Domains
      • Subdomains
      • Hybrid Domains
      • Exalted Domains

Polyhedral Pantheons in the Wild: Sycarion Diversions

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

John Payne has been developing a pantheon using the polyhedral pantheons methods. He’s not done yet (the linked post is an introduction to a series of posts he is working on), but I’ve seen in private messages where he’s going with it and I’m pretty excited about it.

He’s been gracious enough to allow me to include it as an example in my upcoming Polyhedral Pantheons book, too, so there will ultimately be a couple places to read about it when done.

 

Fantastic (Hex) Maps

Song of Ice and Fire Atlas

Song of Ice and Fire Atlas

Jonathan Roberts of Fantastic Maps (who worked on a little thing I linked to on the right) is working on a hex mapping web application.

This morning I got access to it and put together a little map.

Quickly. Pretty easily. There are some interface improvements to come, but overall I’m excited about this.

It’s written as a web application, so it should be accessible from just about anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.

I have to show it half-size here so it’ll fit on the page, but I was able to whip this together in about ten minutes after reading only enough of the instructions to find the URL of the alpha site.

No, I’m not sharing that URL, Jonathan asked us not to :)

Quick Hex Map

Quick Hex Map

And another quick map. I was showing my daughter and ended up drawing what the Ghost Hills might look like.

The Ghost Hills

The Ghost Hills

Hybrid Domain: Abyss Domain

This hybrid domain was originally posted as part of an article on Pathfinder subdomains (where you can see how I built it, as with Heavy Lifting: Guardian Domain).

Abyss Domain (Specialized)

Associated Domains: Chaos, Evil

Granted Powers: You are tainted by the powers of the abyss.

Fury of the Abyss (Su): As a swift action, you can give yourself a profane bonus equal to 1/2 your cleric level (minimum +1) on melee attacks, melee damage rolls, and combat maneuver checks. This bonus lasts for 1 round. During this round, you take a –2 penalty to AC. You can use this ability for a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Demonic Minion (Ex): At 8th level the powers of the Abyss grant you a subservient minion of your own.  You gain a demonic familiar, as with the Improved Familiar feat using your cleric level in place of the arcane caster level.  This is likely to be a quasit or an animal with the fiendish template (per the Improved Familiar feat), but other minions may be possible.

Domain spells: 1st—doom, 2nd—undetectable alignment, 3rd—rage, 4th—lesser planar binding, 5th—plane shift, 6th—planar binding (demons only), 7th—greater scrying, 8th—greater planar binding, 9th—gate (demons or the Abyss only).