Gods of Akhelaten

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GM: Jeremy
Players: Andrew, Emily, Francois, Kevin, Matt
System: GURPS (Basic, Fantasy, Magic, Powers)

The Cast

  • Strigœicia - An ancient once-goddess of respect and night, now reduced to a mere night-haunt. She is a witch and a vamprie, and can transform herself into a flock of crows.
  • The cast off armor of a god of war
  • An angelic being
  • Sarig, the Lost God of Magic

Initial Proposal

From Jeremy, November 17, 2006:

Ok. So I said I might run a high-point-total GURPS thing and this seems to amuse Emily, so I will post about it here:

Basic theory goes like this: you are regional god of some kind. Think Roman Genius, or Japanese Kami. You may embody a heroic ideal, a river, an element, a cardinal direction, whatever. The character Emily pitched to me is right on target in terms of what I mean.

You existed in the human world once, and were venerated there appropriately, but for whatever reason you have withdrawn from humanity -- maybe you were forgotten, or your shrine was destroyed in a war, who knows. You have come to Akhelaten, the city where the gods sleep. It is an enormous shrine-city, populated by priests who venerate and sustain the hundreds of sleeping gods who lie in its sprawling temple complexes. The deal the gods make with the humans here is simple - the priests keep the gods alive, and in return the gods rise to defend the city if it is ever attacked. So you came to Akhelaten, the priests welcomed you into their fold, and for a time you slept.

Then you awake, to the smell of blood and the heat of flames - Akhelaten is in ruins all around you, and a dying summoner lies at your feet, having used his last strength to awaken you and give you a body. For the moment, you are alive - but without a shrine, you will die if your body is destroyed, and with Akhelaten gone there is no safe place left for you in the mortal world. Plus, there is the question of what power could have overcome the City of Seven Hundred Gods...

CP total for this game is 500. I raised it 'cause Emily said she was having trouble fitting all her cool powers into the previous cap.

Re: Unkillable. A god with a shrine has the version of Unkillable where you turn into a ghost and regenerate at a specific place after a few days. You don't have this yet (well, you do, but it's worth 0 points because you have no shrine), but that doesn't mean you can't also have OTHER kinds of Unkillable. Frankly, I won't mind being able to field opponents who can "kill" you, if death is not so scary for you. That said, if only some of the characters are unkillable and the others aren't, it makes things awkward, so mumble amongst yourselves.

Re: Travel powers. Time-travel and world-jumping are right out. Everything else is free game.

Gods are differentiated from random fantasy beasts and fairies and stuff by the fact that they interact with humans. A dryad is *also* a forest spirit, but doesn't give a flying f...ir tree about what happens to people. Your relationship doesn't have to be symbiotic, most evil gods work like parasites, but chances are you will have some social and mental disads relating to humans.

So?



History

Some details may be missing because this region was mostly ruled by men at the time, and any secrets they kept are gone along with all the kings and lords. There has been talk that if the men are ever returned, there will be some changes vis-a-vis who gets to be in charge.

At any rate, although the invasion occurred six years ago, the story begins at least a hundred years ago. Back then, the lands around Haku- Aten were known as the Cloudhills, mostly because if you went there all you really saw were clouds and hills. The region has always been sparsely populated, good only for farmland and a constant supply of impoverished farmer's sons for the army. The Cloudhills were "ruled" by the Lord of the Ascent, a ceremonial position nobody remembers the purpose of but which is maintained because it has something to do with holy Mount Haku-Aten. Generally the actual ruling was done by one of the various warlord states that bordered the Cloudhills, and they would fight over who gets to be in charge.

At any rate, the Cloudhills were at peace a hundred years ago; the warlords had stopped their squabbling because a new power was rising far to the southeast. A nation that called itself the Empire of the Broken Shield had taken some kind of foothold on the continent; details are fuzzy, but they had some claim to the throne of a kingdom along the eastern coast. What was clear was that they were backing up this claim with considerable military power. There was talk of sorcery being involved -- that this might be the start of another mage- kingdom, like those whispered about in myth. Such kingdoms always ended in catastrophe, of course.

The Empire won that conflict, and many others - for decades, they crept deeper into the continent, conquering mostly through diplomacy and the threat of violence, with the occasional bit of actual violence when needed. Nobody knew what land they came from, but their weapons were of incredible workmanship; it quickly became clear where they got their name, as an Imperial sword could cleave through a shield in a single easy stroke.

Then, just as the hand of the Empire reached towards Haku-Aten, they stopped. Something was wrong in the homeland. The provinces of the Empire, suddenly cut off from their capital, scrambled to entrench themselves. Then, cities started dropping off the map - messengers and caravans would go out, but never return. The lack of information was the strangest part - no refugees came, no smoke rose on the horizon. Just silence.

Six years ago, the week before the invasion, some people remember seeing something glittering far off in the sky -- shimmering and silver, like a jewel. Then, darkness fell on the village, and people quailed in fear. An enormous dark circle blotted out the sky, and from it descended a searing blue flame - Ajevra, the Deva of Fire, the Blue Star of Catastrophe. With her came a multitude of metal men (a hundred? ten thousand? nobody was counting), their landings carving out great furrows in the ground. She slaughtered hundreds, and her men searched through every building, killing or kidnapping every man they found -- all in a single day. Then, she would return to the darkness in the sky, and it would move on to the next town.

The very first man she killed was the Lord of the Ascent, and then she broke the staff he carried.

Ajevra installed the Repeater, the Arbiters and the Justicars. She laid out the laws - that any boy over the age of 13 had to be surrendered to the Arbiter, that the village had to provide a certain amount of food and crafted goods, and so on.

Finally, Ajevra made clear the purpose of her coming: she was here to kill them all. So long as she was obeyed, that death would be a merciful one: old age or whatever misadventure would normally claim a person. Their lives would not be interfered with beyond the rules she had made.

However. There would be no men, and thus no children. In a century, nothing would be left of their people.

This, she proclaimed, was the Will of the Silver City. Humans were the last trappings of what she called the Old World, and when they had all died out, the Door to Paradise would open and the New World would finally be ushered in. You could hear the capital letters falling into place when she spoke.

What was being done was a mercy, she said, as she could easily scour them out with flame in a day if she felt like it. It was a claim she backed up numerous times; one or two villages tried to keep their sons from her, and were destroyed. One city destroyed their Arbiter, and she left a smoking crater where it used to stand.

Travellers came from other cities, and it was clear the situation was the same all across the continent. There were at least two other Devas ruling the continent.

A few days before the Gods showed up in the northernmost village, the Darkness In The Sky came again - but this time it simply passed by, heading to Mount Haku-Aten. Ajevra went with it. Two days after that, it came back again, and went away to the Southeast. Ajevra returned. They were never told why.


Questions and Answers

Q. Where do gods come from? Do they necessarily start that way? I've had at least a couple of PCs reach apotheosis, and am vaguely considering recylcing one.

A. Depends on the god. Some are born as children to other gods, some are mortals who transcended, and some spring into being because they are needed (see Pratchett's Small Gods). So recycling a character works.


Q. Do we all get whatever Status/Social Regard/Etc that's inherent in being a kami/spirit for free? If not, what kind of cost should we be looking at?

A. You get it for free, I'm going to say that modifier is hidden for now.


Sessions

April 14, 2007