Friday, 27 November 2015

What are Devils?

 What are Devils?

"When the world was unblemished and fresh, they woke up. Keeper-spirits, new-born, but already knowing. Before them was a virginal world, orderly and perfect, and in deepest fibres of their being the intent, to preserve that order. They had seen no gods; witnessed no great creation. All they knew was a simple directive to preserve the cogs of this living machine.

For a time, atoms spun as directed. The greatest continental drift or smallest heartbeat sung in harmony with cosmic orchestra.

Then, came the thinking races. Man, Elf, Dwarf and others. They tampered, and poked, and spat entropy in the eye of the universe.

Our spirits, once content, formed two great tribes. One sought to incentivise the new to thinkers into staying within their rightful place – a heaven where the cruelties of the world had no place. The other offered the threat of punishment eternal – those who were discordant with the rhythm of their keepers would drown in filth and hellfire everlasting.

For a time, this arrangement was elegant. A two-state solution on a meta-cosmic level. For a time, order persisted.

But there was a itch in the fibre. A sensation of ever present disappointment like a shadow on the mind. It deepened, and grew as the millennia flickered by. Still, the thinkers turned their minds to the dignity of nature, and tore it anew: with magicks; with new discoveries, with an endless, anarchic entrepreneurial instinct.

The tribes began to exceed their mandate. An atom here, a word here. Soon, one tribe exhorted the righteous to acts of crusade and zeal, and the other drew and tempted the mortals as much as they could, and cold war began. What had once been a cherished duty became a battlefield, and in the heart of the tempters was borne a tiny flicker of ambition, masked as duty.

Why do we not hold these mortals in thrall? Why do we not bring perfection with fire, and sword and word? Why do we not rule as we did before?"

The Devils, then, are one splintered part of the forces of Law. They have abandoned their remit, and now seek to draw more souls and power to themselves in order to conquer the world completely. In The Last Days, this takes the form of drawing more souls to themselves and promoting their chosen to positions of power. When a Devil offers you the crown in contract, he is not doing it for you.

The Great Devils jockey for dominion, and shame and undermine one another endlessly. This is not ambition, or competition, you understand – it is simply Devils asserting that logically the greatest at these games should lead, and those weak or inefficient fiends should be reduced. They number Eight.

There is in the minds of some scholars, a hypothetical Ninth. But he is a silent silhouette; taciturn. Whilst he is overseer of the games of the Eight, and they act in his name, he is utterly unknown to the mortals.  Some scholars have claimed that The Chained Angel, parton god of Audenfeyr, or the Iron Tyrant, the One God, are in fact masks of the Ninth. This is all conjecture, and the Eight are not talking.

How do players interact with the Thousand Courts of Hell?

Cults of useful idiots serve some devil or other, in return of flimsy, momentary insertions of shiny metal or petty dominion over fellow mortals. That such baubles from the earth and meaningless trophies can buy an immortal soul is of intense amusement to Fiendkind. This is the lowest form of devils playing the Great Game.

Other mortals are given Power – real power – a portion of the power of the original spirits themselves. Warlocks and Willing Vessels are fairly common, if anathema to most.

There is also the path of the First and Most Terrible Sin: the Goetic Arts. To bind a Devil to your will is risky indeed, but promises power without limit.

Lastly, in the Iron City of Dis stands an army of stillness and perfection – the toy soldiers of an autistic god.  It is the failsafe. The gift. Should the world be compromised – should all the usual methods fail – they shall march through the thinking races and slay ever man, woman and child. They will reign over an empire of perfect ash.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Exorcist-Errant; a custom background for 5e and The Last Day Dawned.

Exorcist-Errant You wandered the high and lonely roads of Audenfeyr, ministering to those who had passed on. With force of will and goodly intent, you sent souls on to their final rest. Perhaps you were born with a morbid fixation; perhaps necessity forced you to hone this craft. Regardless, although the smallfolk fear you, they huddle to hear your voice when things go bump in the night. Of late, the weight of deaths has made your task Sisyphean and ghosts crawl like termites in the bones of the world. 

Skills: Religion, Diplomacy or Arcana (choose two).
 Tools: An Exorcist’s Kit (a holy symbol, candles and religious texts detailing rituals for exorcism and appropriate herbs and salt). (Grants proficiency to any Exorcism check, knowledge roles pertaining to spirits or fiends and saving throws versus possession). 
 Equipment: A set of travelling clothes, an Exorcist’s Kit, a pouch containing 25gp and a sentimental token from a spirit you exorcised.
 Languages: Choose one extra of Celestial, Abyssal or Infernal.
 Feature: I see dead people: On any Perception, Insight or knowledge roll related to haunting or possession you have advantage.

Personality Trait
1 - I have a morbid fixation. All the living are ghosts-to-be.
2 - I am stoic and reserved in the face of horrors unimaginable.
3 – I live for laughter and love. I live in the moment!
4 – My predilection for rituals has made me obsessive and superstitious.
 5 – My faith is the bright fire that scours a broken world. 6 – I am fatalistic. All is dust and death and doom.

1 – All souls have a right to just reward. I must be tireless in moving the dead on.
2 – The dead are a menace. They should be cast out and sent on as soon as possible. (Chaotic)
3 – The cure for a plague of ghosts is a life well lived – we must seek satisfaction for mortal ills anyway we can. (Good)
4 – The faithful must lead the flock. The gods gave you wisdom and the duty to exercise it. (Lawful) 5 – Kings, emperors and ancient magi – all enter as mewling babes and leave as souls unblemished. Why should some wear a crown and some toil? (Chaotic)
 6 – I have a gift and a need for coin. I brave dangers others quail at – I deserve wealth, power and respect. (Evil).

1 – I resent my power and my station. I wish I was free of this burden. (Chaotic)
2 – I secretly wish to transcend death utterly. I don’t want to be reduced to a spectre.
3 – I despise those who live empty lives and end up as wraiths. (Evil).
4 – I suffer from bouts of deep depression. There is no hope for mortals.
5 – I learnt to exorcise ghosts because so many died at my hand. I am haunted.
6 – I am a charlatan – my whole craft is a masquerade. I know nothing about the undead.

1 – There is a spirit in my past I can never sate or exorcise; a loved one who died. I search for a means to appease their tortured soul.
2 – The Great Wheel must turn – I will combat necromancy wherever I find it.
3 – I owe my craft to an institution or individual who trained me. I am loyal to them ‘til the bitter end. 4 – Some day, I’ll master magic enough to fix the world.
5 – I am pious and goodly; my faith is my armour.
6 – I seek to live a perfect life and pass unblemished into the heavens.