Are all Chaotic gods Cthonic alien horrors, or are there some more “human-centric” gods of Chaos?
I realize the correct answer is “whatever works for your campaign,” but I’m interested in your take on it.
Are all Chaotic gods Cthonic alien horrors, or are there some more “human-centric” gods of Chaos?
Great question. In the Auran Empire, some of the Chthonic gods are inhuman horrors, the stuff of nightmares, but they can also take on a more human visage.
Here is the Chthonic pantheon:
Iskara – The Demon Queen, goddess of chaos, evil, darkness, and destruction.
Dirgion – The Doom Lord, god of hellfire, doom, and destruction.
Kaleth – The Blasphemer, god of profanity, obscenity, and madness.
Bel – The Slaughterprince, god of anger, violence, and killing.
Galmorm – The Poisoner, god of lies, treachery, and subterfuge.
Nasga – The Serpent, goddess of seduction, adultery, and decadence.
Raviled – The Bitter Prince, god of despair, woe, and regret.
Nargund – The Dusk Wolf, god of predators, hunting, and night.
Ornaron – The Godfather of Storms, brother of Rapanor, one of the gods of storms.
Rapanor – The Thundermaker, brother of Ornaon, one of the gods of storms.
Lammala – The Sea Mother, goddess of the murky depths and tidal waves.
Telith – The Great Earth Elemental, goddess of earthquakes and volcanoes.
Of these, Kaleth, Lammala, and Telith usually take the form of alien horrors, while Dirgion, Galmorm, Raviled and Nasga are most frequently anthropomorphic. Iskara usuallly appears as a dragon, Bel as a four-armed demon, Nargund as a giant wolf.
The word chthonic is actually a Greek word that refers to “gods beneath the earth” or “gods of the underworld.” The chthonic gods were worshipped at night, underground, and received ritual sacrifices (usually animals) burned or buried alive. Jungian psychologists align the chthonic gods as representing the unconscious spirit within, the Id - including envy, lust, sensuality, deceit, etc.
From this Greek derivative, I conceived of the Chthonic gods as being an ancient pantheon that is associated with darkness, the underworld, the earth, and with all of the irrational passions of man. These contrast with the Empyrean deities, associated with the air, the sky, the stars, the light of reason.
The word “chthonic” is pleasantly close to sounding “Chaotic” and “Cthulhu” so its admirably suited for a variety of uses, depending on your needs, of course.
I was marginally aware of what “chtonic” meant, but after years of Lovecraft, I’ve unconsciously conflated the word to mean “blasphemous horrors from beyond the spheres of time and space.” It’s good to see that I wasn’t too (too) extremely off-base.
Are their chaotic gods who aren’t cthonic? Where would a pseudo-Eris, Anansi, or Coyote (disruptive, often bad, but never evil) fall on the alignment scale? The more I think of it, the more it seems like these typically chaotic gods would more likely be considered Neutral in ACKS (they don’t actively promote the fall of man).
Thanks for posting that list Alex.
A couple of weeks ago I was about to start a 4E campaign but then I discovered ACKS…
It was perfect for the kind of campaign I wanted to run so I switched. Hopefully I have a good enough grasp on how the system works because tomorrow we will start playing, ready or not!
Seeing that it will be some time before the setting book is released is it possible to get a list, like the Chthonic one, on the other gods?
I could of course make my own gods but I predict that I will base a lot of my world on the Auran setting so making my own gods have not been a priority so far.
These are the 7 Empyrean gods.
Ammonar: Ammonar, called the Lightbringer, the Lawgiver, and the Lord of the Dawn, is the god of light, law and creation. He is symbolized by the winged sun, and the eagle is his sacred animal.
Calefa: Calefa is the Lady of Fortune, goddess of wealth and protector of the dead. Her symbol is a 7-spoked wheel, while her sacred animal is the raven. The Sisters of Mourning are her priestesses; they manage funerals, oversee wills and estates, and offer prayers for the dead. A secretive Imperial guild of assassins also serves under her aegis, following ritual rules of engagement to punish lawbreakers who escape other sanction.
Istreus: Istreus is the Master of Secrets, god of knowledge, learning, and magic. His holy symbol is the crescent or the tower, while his sacred animal is the owl. The mages and scholars of the Tower of Knowledge pay him allegiance. His worship is conducted in secret, and only the initiated know the meaning of the mantra, “no sooner spoken than broken”.
Ianna: Ianna is the Lioness, goddess of love and war. Her symbol is an eight-pointed star and her sacred animal is the lion. She has two orders of priestesses, the Dancers of the Veil and the Dancers of the Blade. The veil-dancers serve as courtesans, temple dancers, and sacred prostitutes during the Feast of Fertility. The blade-dancers are highly desired as bodyguards by the nobility.
Mityara: Mityara is the Noble Lady, goddess of peace and civic duty. She is symbolized with either an ivory lady with her arm outstretched, or with an ivory torch. Her sacred animal is the dove. Her priestesses are known as the Keepers of the Hearth Fire; they maintain the sacred fires and pure waters of the city, oversee ceremonies such as marriage and childbirth, control censorship of the arts, and may pardon any criminal.
Naurivus: Naurivus is the Patron of Explorers, god of travel, water, and weather. His symbol is the galley, and his sacred animals are the dog, the horse, and the dolphin. He is also known as the Lord of Winds, and sailors praise and curse him. The Imperial Company of Explorers, whose men and women serve as scouts and navigators around the empire, hold him as their patron deity.
Similar deities or analogues appear in all of the major cultures. For example, an Ammonar-like god known as Aldfodr or All-Father is worshipped by the Jutlanders and Rornish. A sun deity called Manannan is worshipped by the elves of Argollë. Both Aldfodr and Manannan are symbolized by a spear over the sun and venerated as the father of the gods.
Thank you very much Alex!
We just finished our first session. It was mainly creating characters and sorting out some technical aspect. We are using Google+ hangouts and Fantasy Grounds for our games since we are a bit spread out over the country.
Got one cleric of Ammonar and a Bladedancer so this info is great to have!
They had the option to go to Quasqueton (In Search of the Unknown somewhat modified), Caverns of Chaos (Keep on the Borderlands) or the Barrowmaze (Labyrinth Lord megadungeon). They chose Quasqueton so it will be interesting to see how that goes.
You have put out a great product and I’m looking forward for more things to come!
Thanks for the kind words! Will you post a play report of your session?
Alex, any chance you could share the holy symbols and associated weapons of the cthonic gods, please? It’d really help put the finishing touches to my Anti-paladin class writeup.
Alex: I just saw the Empyrean gods, and realized one of my players rolled up a temple prostitute without her knowing it.
…just saying you might either want to make that explicit in the template in question so it doesn’t come as a surprise later, or write up a segment of the priestesses of Ianna who’re not also sacred prostitutes.
I don’t yet know if the player will go “Cool!” or “WTF! Get real, and let’s fix this!”, but I don’t think the second one would be unreasonable in the least.
Demoss - can you clarify for me how your player rolled up a temple prostitute without knowing it?
Maybe I’m just misreading something, but…
“Ianna: … She has two orders of priestesses, the Dancers of the Veil and the Dancers of the Blade. The veil-dancers serve as courtesans, temple dancers, and sacred prostitutes during the Feast of Fertility.”
From Companion, Priestess templates:
“7-8 Chantress … Holy symbol (9-pointed star of Ianna) …”
I can easily believe that the intention wasn’t for the Chantresses to be also the sacred prostitutes, but that’s sort of the impression I get.
No biggie here – but I can see how this could cause ugliness in some tables.
I wouldn’t have associated being a temple prostitute with the Chantress, but the “Sacred Courtesan” priestess template is another matter.
Ah, I understand the confusion now.
So the good news is that your player is not a temple prostitute. In the context of temple service, a chantress would serve as a choir singer for the blade dancers.
There is a specific template (13-14) for the sacred courtesan.
The text for Ianna probably should read something more like the following:
Ianna: … She has two orders of priestesses, the Dancers of the Veil and the Dancers of the Blade. The veil-dancers serve as courtesans, temple performers, and sacred prostitutes during the Feast of Fertility."
So, Alex, any info. on the symbols and weapons of the cthonic gods?
Alex: maybe “some veil-dancers serve as courtesans, some as temple performers, and some as sacred prostitutes”.
Right now it reads a bit as if same people function in all three roles.
Colin - all the gods and goddesses are syncretic, so they show up under different names in different cultures, and have different symbols. Here’s a short list.
Iskara: A silver draconic eye; a dragon-winged woman; a two-headed serpent; a coiled cobra; a serpent eating its own tail
Kaleth: A mouth surrounded by eyes; a purple circle on black, with a mauve eye in the center; a dripping pseudopod
Bel: A black gauntlet with 6 arrows; a bloody axe; a triple flail; a taloned hand
Galmorm: A horned rat; a striking scorpion; an oozing lizard-toad
Nasga: A medusa’s head; a serpent with a woman’s upper body; a copper scourge; a black rose; a white dagger in a pallid hand; a spider; a horned bat-winged woman
Raviled: A black wavy dagger; a human head sporting antlers
Nargund: A bloody wolf’s muzzle; a spiraling red maze on black; bloody teeth
Dirgion: A skull on a black sphere or cowl; a ruby mace; a red eye of fire on black; a black star on grey
Ornaron: A lightning bolt through a storm cloud; a horned helmet with glowing eyes
Rapanor: Crossed lightning bolts; a lightning bolt through a storm cloud
Lammala: A tentacled abomination; a blue-green spiral with a black center; a lobster head
Telith: A pregnant fertility goddess with multiple arms and great fangs; an egg in a woman’s vulva; a green eye surrounded by tentacles; a jawless human skull with fungi
Awesome, thanks. Might be best to go for a generic “symbol of X” approach then for the anti-pal templates.
The first symbol in each entry is the default symbol, if that’s helpful.
It is indeed, thanks.
I may be missing something but I only count six gods?