Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Pantheon for a Weird Horror Campaign

I decided a cool project this winter would be to work on a weird-horror sandbox style campaign.  Some of the ideas in a recent kickstarter, Silent Legions, inspired me to pick up with blogging again.  Silent Legions is explicitly based in the modern day, but I'll be using the sandbox creation ideas for a historical game featuring the LOTFP rules.  I'm not 100% sure on the setting, but I'm leaning towards Colonial America (mid-17th century, maybe 1650?) or Gothic Yorkshire, an area to which I'm inexplicably drawn.  Looking below, I think I can make the pantheons work in either locale.

I thought it would be fun to give the mythos some overtones of European folklore and Judeo-Christian mythology - many of the eldritch beings and alien races have been confused with demons, angels, faeries, that kind of stuff.  I'm starting with the pantheon.  There are two groups of elder beings - a loosely associated collection of demons, and then a handful of independent gods.  For now I'm making four of each.  These are just the briefest of sketches - they'll get developed further as I add alien races, cults, artifacts associated with them, etc.  I'm going to elaborate the pantheon organically as other setting elements come together.

The Demon Pantheon
The traits of the demon pantheon are "maltheistic and relics".  They are carryovers from an earlier reality, and are completely malevolent towards humans.  I'm thinking the beings of the demon pantheon are outsiders, originating beyond the world in another dimension, which has been confused or conflated with Hell through the ages (I'm going call it Hell until I get around to creating the alternate dimensions).  They are creatures of spirit that can only manifest in the physical world through possession of a vessel.  Here are the first four of them:

Descriel, Purple Seer of the 9th Circle
This being sits immobile in the frozen center of Hell, contemplating the heat-death of the universe.  It's portfolio is thirst, cold, and deprivation.  I imagine that mad wizards and sorcerers have been found in their sanctums, frozen solid, after reaching out to Descriel and failing in their ability to handle the contact.

Naziel, Murderous Arm of Torment, Prince of Malady
Naziel is a brutish demon of destruction.  It reeks of steaming jungles and the stench of blood.  It commands an army of lesser beings, and is frequently represented in stone idols as a blend of humanoid and bestial features.

Ohaniel, the Voracious Autarch
Ohaniel manifests as a spirit that possesses its cultists, turning them ravenous and insatiable.  Maybe those touched and abandoned by Ohaniel continue on as cannibals, like the wendigo myth.  The entity is associated with rage, hunger, and death.

Osetsopez the First Serpent, Crimson Dragon of Ruin
All of the primordial myths have snakes, dragons, and serpentine beasts of chaos, echoes of the first serpent.  Osetsopez is an agent of ruin and corruption, stalking the cities of men in borrowed flesh to foment destruction through war and vice.

The Independent Gods
There are four independent beings, not associated with the infernal pantheon.  Gnot and Bondaena are physical beings in the world, while Kehotek is a spirit of the barren wastes, and Kentharlzola descends from the depths of space.

Gnot the Sublime, Many Faced Destroyer of Worlds
Gnot is an embryonic being from the depths of space, crashed on earth in Neolithic times and regaining its power slowly over geologic time.  Its egg sac appears like a black, leathery geode, and has been steadily growing through the millennia.  If I place the campaign in England, Gnot is the being within the Black Cyst that lies in the depths of Harrow Home Manor.

It's traits are "immanent and wounded", and its portfolio is silence and pain.  Things to think about!

Kehotek the Sevenfold Seer, Opener of the Blind Gate
Kehotek is "indifferent and dissociated" and associated with visions and parasites.  I'm going to attach various cults of transcendence to Kehotek.  Cultists of Kehotek seek to transcend reality through mysticism and visions.  They infect themselves with progressively more disgusting parasites to achieve gnosis with Kehotek.  It grosses me out just thinking about the 'divine' worm infestations carried around by the cultists.

Kentharlzola, Winged Speaker of Flames
Kantharlzola is a deity woven through Middle-Eastern myths and the folklore of the deserts.  It is the phoenix, the efreet, the winged salamander, the fiery Ahura.  Contact with Kentharlzola is capable of imparting wisdom and knowledge of magic at the cost of years of life; cultists of the phoenix are withered beyond their years.

Bondaena the Hollow Sea, Anvil of Life
Bondaena is a monstrous leviathan in the ocean depths.  It is a forerunner of the life still yet to come on earth, protean and changeable.  It is a harbinger of mutation and disease.

Like I said, I expect these to change as I add other pieces to the setting.  I'll come up with better names, and elaborate the beings as I create some of the alien races, cults, and artifacts.  The tables in Silent Legion were fairly helpful in directing my imagination and brainstorming.  We'll see how it goes next week when I start developing some alien races.

Note:  I'm going to add a quick poll around what sounds more interesting for a horror-themed sandbox - Colonial America or Gothic Yorkshire.