Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Sprits of the Deeps - Alternate Cleric List for HMS Apollyon

Two of the major religions aboard the HMS Apollyon are not organized religions in the sense that the average D&D cleric seems to depend on, they are less hierarchical and more polytheistic then the standard portrayal of D&D holy men.  The Shrine of the Ship Spirits is a syncretic polytheism that worships numerous small spirits and petty gods tied to different manifestations of the Apollyon itself.  It has aspects of ancestor worship and animism, depending in the immediate intervention of local spiritual forces.  The Cult of the Leviathan is likewise outside the norms of clerical practice, being a classic mystery cult devoted to an otherworldly entity with dominion over the ocean.  I have decided optionally to adopt a non-Vancian system for these religions following that used by Brendan in designing a Shaman class for Pahvelorn.  Alternatively I have included the name of a standard clerical spell that can be replaced by the Cult versions below for flavor. It should also perhaps be noted that these guys were originally intended to be baddies, yet for whatever reason they seem to be perceived as more "zany counter-culture types" by my players.

Cult of the Leviathan

It's likely that Leviathan ...
The worshipers of the Most Serene and Ancient Leviathan are a fairly new addition to the religions of Sterntown.  Some claim the Leviathan was originally a Frogling deity, and indeed Froglings make up a fair portion of it's worshipers, but then again many Froglings are fishers and the Leviathan's entire congregation is made up of fisherfolk.  The Cult is an ecstatic mystery religion, with the bulk of its supplicants knowing little beyond a few mantras requesting divine aid in finding schools of fish, or strengthening nets, and worshiping the Sunken God only by wearing a carved whalebone gris gris or marching in the Cult's festive parades.

Only true devotees who have made sacrifices, undergone the trials and been initiated are allowed into the Leviathan's shrines, and only they speak to the nature of their deity.  Leviathan devotees of course do not speak of their god, or the mysteries of the religion, beyond the promises of fecundity and wealth from the sea that are the mainstays of the Cult's public face.  Still more can be gleaned from the odd encounters with the Cult's miracle workers, for the Leviathan, like the Ship Spirits and the Eternal Queen has his appointed representatives on this plane who possess supernatural powers.

Unlike clerics of more sophisticated religions and more distant deities, the heirophants and pontifexs of the Leviathan have access both to a much more restricted range of spells, but greater ability to use them by drawing directly on their deity and it's various manifestations.  As a priest of Leviathan penetrates deeper into the mysteries of the cult he is initiated into various circles each devoted to a new avatar of the Leviathan.  Initiates begin with knowledge of only one circle, while heirophants, having performed many services and provided a great value in sacrifices and donations to the Cult may be knowledgeable in the secrets of two or even three circles.  The greatest priest of the Leviathan, the pontifexs are rumored to know five circles and speak to five avatars of the Leviathan, including its true form.  Regardless of the number of circles a devotee may have entered the mortal mind may only hold the form of one avatar of the Leviathan at a time and the rituals involved in contacting a different avatar and binding it to the initiate require a day in a secure place.

In game terms an initiate of the Leviathan may select a different avatar and corresponding set of spells at the beginning of each session but then is limited to casting only these spell.  An initiate of Leviathan may however attempt cast these spells any many times as they wish. Casting is determined by making a roll on a D20 higher than the target number of the spell (the target number is bracketed after the spell name below).  Initiates add their level and the +1 bonus for having a 15 or better Wisdom to their roll.  On a successful roll the petition is granted, on a a failure of more than three the initiate may not request the specific boon until they rest and pray and on a failure of five or greater (or any natural 1) something horrible happens.  All spells marked "ritual" take 1 turn to cast, while the others may be cast in one round.

The Amaranthine Spiral - The most common of the Leviathan's manifestations, the devotee of the Amaranthine Spiral must wear purple garments consecrated with squid ink.  The spiral is the embodiment of the sea's fecundity, mystery and wild unpredictable nature.

Voice of the Waters (ritual) [11] [speak with animals]
 Using this petition successfully will grant the initiate the ability to speak and understand the language of sea creatures.  It is most commonly used to lure schools of fish into the nets of the Apollyon's fishing fleet, as many of the simpler forms of sea life are both trusting and rather simple minded.  If successful the ritual will allow the initiate to speak the language of sea creatures for one turn per caster level. A catastrophic failure of this petition will often curse the initiate with the inability to speak the language of humanity or sea life, reducing him to the appearance of a babbling lunatic for a full day.

Dead Light [13] [light/dancing lights]
Calling on the powers of the deep ocean the initiate summons unnatural lumiensence that hangs in the air as if suspended in water.  Glowing purple, green or blue this divine light, forged from the souls of drowned mariners according to dogma, may be molded by the initiate into various simple forms (a number of shapes up to the initiate's level - approximating torch flames, lantern light or simple geometric shapes) and commanded to move slowly in any direction.  Each of these fragments of light will move at 20' (or as a heavily encumbered human) floating three or four feet above the ground and shedding light as a torch (30' radius).

If the Dead Light is  retained as a single orb it will be much brighter (100' radius of light), but must be carried by the initiate. Dead light is not the equivalent of daylight, having a diffuse submarine appearance, and will have little effect on creatures who fear light, though it can banish magical darkness. If thrown at a target (save vs. spells to hit), the dead light will attach itself to the target's head, and will blind them (-4 to all rolls) until the spell fades.  Dead Lights endure for 1D6 turns after casting. Catastrophic failure of the spell usually results in the eyes of the caster becoming glowing Dead Lights for 1D6 turns, while the caster witnesses strange and maddening visions.  While effected the caster will be blind (-4 to all rolls) and require a save vs. spells to act while under the effect of the visions.

Kraken's Blessing (ritual) [15] [water breath]
A successful petition allows the initiate (and an additional individual per 1 point penalty to the casting roll) to breath water.  This water breath will last from the time the effected individual submerges themselves until they return to the air, to a maximum of one day.  In addition to allowing underwater breathing this spell prevents damage from submarine pressure and similar effects.  Catastrophic failure of this spell may result in the caster's inability to breath air (and ability to only breath water) for a day.

Spiral Weard (ritual) [16] [symbol of insanity]
Successfully undertaking this ritual allows the initiate to draw or carve a squamous sign on any appropriate surface.  This sigil will cause nausea, confusion and madness in any viewing it (including the caster) after it has been impregnated with divine power.  Generally initiates will conceal this sigil and reveal it it an opportune moment, though it can also be used to create traps.  Once one or more individuals have been effected by the weard it will shift into a garbled spiral of unsettling lines, but have no additional effect unless renewed by another ritual.

Those viewing the Spiral must save vs. Spells with a -1 per level of the weard's crafter or go insane.  The immediate effect of this insanity is mouth frothing nausea and violent confusion, but it's permanent effects will vary from phobias to schizophrenic delusions.  Under the initial effect victims will attack nearby targets randomly (preferably others effected by the weard) for 1D4 turns, though nausea and confusion will make all attacks while under its effect at -2.  Catastrophic failure of this spell not only permanently marks the face of the initiate with an off-putting (but non-magical) variant of the weard (permanent loss of 1D4 Charisma), but also drives her instantly insane with the effects noted above.

Spiral Caress [18] [feeblemind/augry]
After invoking this spell the initiate may directly touch the mind of the Amaranthine Spiral and pull things from it.  The first use of this spell is to seek answers to questions from the Spiral while the second is to destroy the minds of others.

Once in touch with the mind of the Spiral, the initiate can ask a single yes or no question (prolonged contact with the Spiral causes madness), which the Spiral will answer to the best of it's knowledge and ability.  It should be noted that the spiral communicates in images and impressions and that while it is powerful it is also unfathomable and insane by human standards.

If used as a weapon, the next target of the initiate successfully touched (likely via melee attack) must Save vs. Spells or fall into gibbering madness as the Amaranthine Spiral attempts to communicate with them.  INT and WIS will be reduced to 3, and the victim must make a Save vs. Spells to take any action beyond blubbering and glossolalia.  After 1D6 weeks under the effect of the spell, during which time only prolonged, expensive magical/pharmaceutical sedation or a remove curse spell the victim will transform into a zombie like Avatar of the Spiral which will seek out and protect the Leviathan's shrines as it slowly develops octopus like features and deformities.

Catastrophic failure of this spell will frequently reduce the initiate to gibbering madness as he cannot limit or break off contact with the Leviathan.  If left untreated (through sedation for several weeks or a remove curse spell) this will transform the initiate into and avatar of the Spiral.
I Think That is Actually Amaranthine, well more a Phlox
Amaranthine Intervention [20][evard's black tentacles]
Summoning a direct intervention of the Amaranthine Spiral into the material world is a dangerous act.  Upon successfully making this Petition, a purplish (lavender, lilac, phlox, heliotrope or eggplant) tentacle or mass of tentacles will writhe from the floor or ceiling as directed by the initiate.  These tentacles are ectoplasm, but are immensely strong and dangerous.  The Intervention will attack anything within a 20' radius of it's location as a creature of the same HD as the caster for 1D6 per level of the caster.  These D6 may be split amongst multiple targets as the caster or GM wishes.  On a successful attack the tentacles will hold the target within their range for the next round, as well as inflicting damage.  The tentacles may be slain, as an AC 4 creature with HP equal to 2D6 x Caster's HD. If not destroyed the intervention will eventually liquefy into a mass of stinking purple slime (after 1D10+caster level turns).

Catastrophic failure of this spell causes the initiate's own body to be the source of the intervention, with tentacles ripping him apart from within before spreading to attack any other target withing the spell's radius.

Future posts will include alternate spell lists for the two other major avatar's of the Leviathan - the Brine Witch, representing the Leviathan's interaction with humans and The Jaws Beneath, a spirit of animalistic frenzy, life force and violence.

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