Path of the Damned
Gods and other divine entities of this land fall into one of three broad groups: The Nine Powers, a pantheon of mythological figures who are the gods of the civilized peoples; the Forest Gods, myriad spirits of beast, wood, and weather that are worshiped by many of the savage and barbarian tribes; and the Great Old Ones, dreadful prehuman entities that are venerated only by the most degenerate cultists and tribes.
THE NINE POWERS
Goddess of Dawn, Messenger of the Gods, Flame of Atlantis
Symbol: A crown or tiara with rays of sunlight
Alignment: Neutral good
Portfolio: Dawn, fire, beginnings, inspiration
Favored Weapon: Spear
The goddess of dawn, Asura is said to begin each new day by kindling the sun with divine fire. She is a figure of glory and hope, dispelling darkness and driving away evil things with her coming. Her holy texts teach that people are meant to live free of oppression and realize their potential, doing good works and aiding those less fortunate than they. She
was once considered the special patron of Atlantis, and her radiant glory symbolized the progress and enlightenment of Atlantean civilization. Temples of Asura commonly greet each sunrise with ringing gongs, and keep a sacred fire burning at the altar all year round. The priests of Asura lost a great deal of wealth and influence when Atlantis was destroyed, but after centuries of decline, Asura’s faith is now gaining strength again as her priests champion the cause of Thule’s lower classes. The priests of Asura oppose the worst excesses of the slave trade, calling for laws to ensure that slaves are treated well, and a few of the most radical even go so far as to call for the abolition of slavery altogether—a position that puts at odds with the elites of Thule’s cities.
Lord of Beasts, the Ape-God
Symbol: Broken bones
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Portfolio: Beasts, savagery, rage, destruction
Favored Weapon: Greatclub
An old and brutal god, Herum represents the violence and bloodthirstiness that lurks inside
the human heart. He was one of the first gods of humankind, a suitable deity for naked savages who were barely more advanced than apes themselves. Herum teaches that humans are no more than beasts that can think, and that the true man is one who rids himself of his delusions and false morals, giving himself over to the beast that lurks within.
Few civilized folk still worship Herum. His message of primitive rage and brutal impulse repels the more advanced cultures of Thule, and his temples sit forgotten (or shunned) in the older quarters of Thule’s ancient cities. But here and there Herum’s crude altars stand in the wild places of the world in jungle clearings or on windswept hilltops, stained with the blood of the sacrifices the ape-god demands from his worshipers. His worshipers include the most savage warriors, murderers, and lycanthropes.
Goddess of Love, Luck, and War
Symbol: Eight-pointed star
Alignment: Chaotic neutral
Portfolio: Love, beauty, art, fortune, passion
Favored Weapon: Scimitar
Ishtar is the goddess of love and beauty. She is legendary for fickleness and fits of jealous rage, but this same passionate nature also drives her to fight fearlessly to protect those she loves and boldly confront foes. Ishtar therefore possesses an important aspect as a goddess of war. While Nergal is the god of warmaking and conquest and Tarhun is the god of battle, Ishtar represents war as the ultimate expression of unchecked emotion. Her dogma can be reduced to one simple idea: Live passionately, in all senses of the expression.
Ishtar is one of the most widely worshiped of the Nine, and her temples can be found in almost every city. Consequently her priestesses tend to be rich, powerful, and influential. Many of the rites and festivals associated with Ishtar’s temple are orgies of one kind or another, which goes a long way toward explaining Ishtar’s popularity with the masses. Clerics of Ishtar are also seekers of beauty, defenders of art, and protectors of their cities.
Goddess of Grain, Mother of Rivers, Queen of the Gods
Symbol: A sheaf of grain
Alignment: Lawful neutral
Portfolio: Agriculture, the earth, rivers, motherhood
Favored Weapon: Light flail
Goddess of agriculture and growing things, Kishar is the consort of Mithra and the mother figure among the Nine. She is the mother of Tarhun, and held in some reverence by followers of that faith as well as her own. Kishar teaches that all things come in their own season, and that people should give thanks for the bounty of the earth. Few temples are dedicated specifically to Kishar. She is more commonly worshiped in conjunction with Mithra, and in many places the highest-ranking priestess in a temple of Mithra also serves as the city’s high priestess of Kishar. Kishar’s clerics observe the seasons of the year, declaring the times for planting and harvest and seeking Kishar’s blessings of rain and sunshine in good measure.
God of the Sun, Lord of the Sky, King of the Gods
Symbol: A sunburst and eagle
Alignment: Lawful good
Portfolio: Sun, justice, sky, rulership and dominion
Favored Weapon: Heavy mace
The ruler of the Nine, Mithra is the god of the sun and sky. Kishar is his consort, and headstrong Tarhun is his son. He is a just and benevolent king, ordering all things so that his followers can enjoy justice and prosperity in their lives. Mithra is also a stern and vigilant judge who checks the wicked ambitions of gods such as Set, Nergal, and Tiamat, ensuring that they fulfill their role in the scheme of things without exceeding their lawful authority. He
teaches that order and justice are the instruments by which the most good can be done for the most people. Mithra’s temples are often the grandest and most powerful in a city, and his priesthood is rich and influential. They are usually strongly aligned with the city’s monarch, and the support of Mithra’s priests is often one of the chief pillars on which a city’s king or queen bases his or her rule. Few rulers can keep their thrones for long if Mithra’s priests determine that Mithra no longer blesses the monarch’s reign.
God of the Underworld, Lord of War, King of the Dead
Symbol: A black lion with a mane of flame
Alignment: Neutral evil
Portfolio: War, death, avarice, the underworld
Favored Weapon: Longsword
A grim and implacable figure, Nergal is the god of the underworld, war, and death. He represents war as the drive for power, dominion, and triumph, the desire to subjugate enemies and claim what is theirs. Nergal is also the stern and final judge of the dead,
sentencing souls deserving of punishment to ages of penance in his hell of black flames. Nergal’s philosophy teaches that the strong rule over the weak, and people are meant to seize the things they want in life—a creed that often casts the lord of the underworld
as a sullen and resentful being who believes Mithra’s place as the ruler of the pantheon belongs to him. While Nergal is a dark and demanding deity, his temples are found in many cities and are firmly established in Thule’s civic life. War comes to all lands sooner or later, and warriors seek Nergal’s favor in the struggles they face. His priesthood urges a strong
hand in dealing with the wretched masses and rival cities, and they also sponsor spectacular (and bloody) games to celebrate the anniversaries of triumphs and conquests from past wars.
God of Night, the Great Serpent
Symbol: Twin serpents
Alignment: Lawful evil
Portfolio: Night, secrets, treachery, poison, snakes
Favored Weapon: Short sword
Set is ancient beyond measure. According to some stories, the lord of snakes actually arose during the long ages when serpentmen ruled over Thule and was first worshiped as a god by that ancient and wicked race. He is the eternal enemy of Mithra, and a bitter rival to Nergal and Tiamat. Set teaches that free will is illusion, and that the only path to understanding is to surrender oneself to him in body, soul, and mind. While the worship of Set is unwelcome in many cities, none can deny the power and influence of his temples. As much as the priests of Mithra and Asura rail against the sinister machinations of Set’s priests, few would dare to move openly to ban Set’s worship or desecrate his altars. Over the years, zealous crusaders have tried to do just that in cities such as Katagia and Quodeth, but sudden mysterious deaths and various other disasters invariably ensue, bringing
these ill-considered campaigns to an end. Set’s worshipers consist largely of the downtrodden and the defeated, people who think so little of themselves that they surrender their all to the Lord of Night in the hope that he will reward faithful devotion with
the comforts and power that have eluded them. Many other people simply hope to propitiate the Lord of Serpents and avert the misfortunes and catastrophes at his command.
God of Storms, Lord of Battle
Symbol: A three-forked lightning bolt
Alignment: Chaotic good
Portfolio: Storms, sky, battle
Favored Weapon: Battle- axe
Brash and headstrong, Tarhun is a god who confronts his foes and tries his strength against them without hesitation. The son of Mithra and Kishar, Tarhun is a warrior-hero, a figure that battles scores of dreadful monsters in various myths and tales. He celebrates battle as the true test of manhood (or womanhood), the strife in which a warrior can show his or
her true merit, and teaches that people with courage and honor can make the world a better place by challenging wickedness and crushing it underfoot. Tarhun’s temples are common in the more martial cities of Thule, especially Lomar, Katagia, and Nim. He is increasingly seen as a god of strength and valor, a war deity who rewards courage (unlike Nergal, who rewards only triumph). Many warriors take Tarhun as their patron and seek his favor before battle. Tarhun’s priests frequently sponsor athletic games, tournaments, and gladiatorial contests to celebrate the virtues of physical hardiness and valor.
Mother of Dragons, Goddess of the Sea, Queen of Chaos
Symbol: A dragon skull with five horns
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Portfolio: Chaos, destruction, monsters, vengeance, the sea
Favored Weapon: Morningstar
Goddess of the sea, Tiamat is a capricious and wrathful deity that supposedly gave birth to many of the more terrible monsters plaguing the world today. Long ago she warred against the other gods and was subdued only with the greatest of difficulty, and she still hates all
the others to this day. Tiamat teaches that the world is without order, and that those who serve chaos and beseech her favor will be rewarded with power and riches. While temples dedicated to Set and Nergal can be found in many Thulean cities, Tiamat’s worship is not
quite as common. At best, those who have to hazard life and livelihood on the seas -
fishermen, sailors, and merchants – are careful to pay their respects to the dragon goddess, hoping to avert her wrath with suitable offerings. People who feel they have been wronged also have been known to seek out Tiamat’s shrines and pray for disaster to befall their enemies. Tiamat’s priests often seek out monsters wherever they lurk, providing them with treasures and sacrifice to honor the “children of the Queen.”
THE FOREST GODS
The idea of gods with human representations and human concerns is relatively new to the people of Thule, my King. Before the time of Atlantis, no one knew of gods such as Mithra or Asura. Even the old, primal deities – Herum, Set, and perhaps Tiamat – had no priests or houses of worship. In those years, humans worshipped only the unseen spirits of hill and
field, beast and tree. The people of the cities may have forgotten their names, but the tribes of the jungles and the plains remember the Forest Gods, and they still pay homage to them.
Those who worship the Forest Gods are not priests or clerics. They are druids, shamans, or totem warriors of one kind or another. Their magic is derived from the spirits of nature, not the power of faith or the divine intercession of the gods. In fact, tribal people are mystified by the rites and doctrines of the city gods; to the typical barbarian, gods don’t want anything from humankind – they just are. Honoring the natural spirits is simply good sense, since
angering the spirit of the deer by failing to express gratitude for a successful hunt might lead the spirit to keep game away from the hunter in the future, while angering the spirit of the mammoth is a good way to get oneself killed.
THE GREAT OLD ONES
The Nine Powers are the gods of Thule, but they are not the only gods in Thule. Long before the gods of the human pantheon or even the myriad spirits of the natural world came into existence and assumed their places, primordial powers – evil, ancient, inhuman – came to the young planet and established their alien dominion over land, sky, and sea. Only the most fearless (or foolhardy) of sages study these creatures, but from these scholars a few terrible names are known. These Great Old Ones include:
- Cthulhu CE The Caller in the Deep
- Dhuoth CE The Giver of Eyes
- Hastur NE The King in Yellow
- Ithaqua CE The Wind-Walker
- Lorthnu’un NE Lord of the Golden Chalice
- Nyarlathotep CE The Crawling Chaos
- Shub-Niggurath CN Black Goat of the Woods
- Tsathoggua NE The Sleeping God
- Yga-Ygo NE The Dweller in Dreams
- Yog-Sothoth CE Opener of the Way
Driven into hibernation in the desolate places of the world or exiled to the far reaches of time and space, the Great Old Ones hunger to return and reclaim what was once theirs. Some who bargain with these beings do so in search of power, some are degenerate tribes that cling to their monstrous gods, and some are vile cultists who pray for the end of all existence. Few indeed dare to name these Other Gods aloud, but that does not mean They are not worshipped. It is better not to pry into these matters.