05 October 2007

The Anari VII – The Scions of Stone

At long last, we come to the final entry in our review of the Anari, the Powers of Light.

This last section details that part of the pantheon associated with the youngest of the Four Brothers – Lagu, the stern, unwavering foe of darkness into whose care passed the fate of the Dweorga, who in the Travelling Tongue are called the Dwarves.

Once this section has been completed, I will continue with a very brief overview of some of the Uruqua. I don’t intend to cover all of them (because this takes an AWFUL lot of time), but I do want to highlight those who serve as Player Character deities, or whose followers and acolytes are sufficiently widespread that they ought by rights to be included in the collected volume of “Deities and Demigods of Anuru”.

If I ever get around to whomping THAT horrible beast up. But more on that later. For now, let us wrap up the Anari with a look at the Scions of Stone.

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The High Priests of Lagu say that each of the Four Brothers was created out of one of the elemental aspects of the cosmos, the stuff of the firmament drawn from the Aether and woven into the material world that is called Anuru. Hara is respected for his mastery of the forces of magic; but the Dwarves regard him as inconstant and capricious, a being formed of the ever-changing winds. Esu is revered for his ferocity and skill at arms, and they say that he was drawn, whole and fully-formed, from the fires of the cosmos. Nosa they hold in some suspicion, as he is erratic and flighty, and can be treacherous if not carefully watched; and for this reason, they say that this means that his being was formed out of the treacherous and ever-changing waters of the world. And in the sum of their world-view, this left only the earth; and so they say that Lagu, solid and reliable, steadfast and trustworthy, the firmest foe of darkness, was formed out of the heartrock of the Universe; and for this reason, his eye is ever on the mountains, and those who dwell beneath them.

It is not known whether this interpretation of the theogenesis of Anuru is accurate, but in many ways it reflects all that is known and understood about the youngest of the Four Brothers of Bræa. Depictions of Lagu are uncommon; the Dwarves seem to be almost reticent about creating images of this mightiest member of their pantheon. He is said to be shorter than Esu, stronger than Hara, and more solidly grounded in the material world than Nosa; and his heart is immovable as the rocks of the mountains. When shown in religious artwork and iconography, he is usually depicted as a fully armed Dwarf warrior, helmeted and bearing a heavy axe; but for some reason, his face is always shadowed. His sigil, the hammer and anvil, is symbolic; to the Dwarves, the hammer represents Barraj, the forger of Dwarven souls, while the anvil is Lagu standing firm upon the Earth, against which those souls are straightened, purified and hardened against all evil.

Lagu is the apotheosis of the Dwarves, who prize duty, loyalty, reliability and faithfulness above all things; and he is one of the principal foci for all those who cleave to the law and righteousness, and who consider the endless struggle against the Dark to be the fundamental purpose for being of all those who love the Light. The followers of Lagu do not compromise with evil; they seek no pacts, make no bargains, never equivocate, never give an inch of ground, and never surrender. And if they die with their feet on stone and their faces to the foe, it is said that their bodies are absorbed into the earth, and are taken into the deep places where Lagu rules supreme, there to sleep until Barraj has reforged their souls in preparation for the Last Battle at the Breaking of the World.

The followers of Lagu are nowhere near as numerous as the priests of Barraj; his worship lies at the heart of all Dwarven societies, but he is most popular with the Deep Dwarves. While his priests are few in number, only a High Priest of Lagu can lead a major temple, and they are the only Dwarven priests who may legally perform marriages. The requirements for a priest or paladin of Lagu are strict; they must have a minimum of 16 Wisdom and must be of Lawful Good alignment; and if they stray even a little from the true path, they lose all of their powers forever. Atonement spells do not help; Lagu brooks no deviation in the fight for order against chaos, and good against evil. In return for these demands, however, the Priests of Lagu receive enormous powers. As the judges of their people, they receive Sense Motive as a class skill, and add their cleric level to all checks. Once per day per three levels, they are able to cast Discern Alignment, and a combined Protection from Chaos/Evil spell; and once per day per five levels, they are able to cast a combined Halt Chaos/Evil spell. Paladins of Lagu receive the Sense Motive benefit as well; their Smite attacks work against Chaos and Evil simultaneously, and once per day, they are able to use their Lay On Hands skill to do double damage to any Chaotic Evil creature by simply making a touch attack.

Alignment: True Good (Lawful)
Sphere(s): The Dwarves, all subterranean creatures
Sigil: A hammer upon an anvil, on a black field within a rune-inscribed ringPreferred hues: Silver and blackPreferred weapon: AxeWorshippers’ alignment: Any Good
Domains: Community, Earth, Glory, Good, Law, War
Church: Minor, but powerful


Barraj, The Soul Forger
Lord of Artisans, The Earth Marshall
(Greater Servant)

If Lagu is the Warrior, then Barraj is the Maker. Patron of artisans, especially smiths and stonecrafters, Barraj is the consummate Dwarven craftsman. He is usually depicted at his forge, either crafting relics of incomparable beauty and magical power, or drawing the souls of fallen Dwarves through the cleansing fires, and reforging them into harder metal against the time when they will be called forth to fight. According to Dwarven legend, the souls of the Dwarves are only on loan. When Anuru is broken at the last by Anā and Ūru in preparation for the final battle between the Powers, Lagu will call home the souls of all Dwarves, both the living and those who have fallen throughout the ages, to fight at his side against the Uruqua. The role of Barraj is to fire the souls of the Dwarves against this last and greatest of trials. Dwarves who were diligent and courageous in life will have the honour of standing at the forefront of the Legions of Deepdark; and their names will be written in the stars and the stones of other worlds, there to live forever.

Because of his role as the focus of artisanship, the worship of Barraj is widespread throughout the Dwarven realms, but he is most popular among the Mountain Dwarves. Most work-a-day Dwarven priests, and most of those who adventure on the surface of the Earth, are followers of Barraj; of all the pantheon, he is the most likely to excuse slightly erratic behaviour, believing that true artistry and craftsmanship can only come from a soul that is free of duress and constraint. He is also the most likely to accept a non-Dwarf as one of his clerics. Priests of Barraj encourage and cajole, rather than thunder and condemn, which makes them rather more popular than their stricter counterparts at the altars of Lagu. All Dwarves know, however, that the worship of Lagu and Barraj forms the necessary duality of Dwarven life, with Barraj symbolizing the strength and creativity necessary to build; and Lagu, the stability and eternal solidity upon which things are built. While the two sides of Dwarven life are occasionally at odds with each other, neither could in truth survive alone.

Priests of Barraj are in many ways the opposite of those of Lagu. Because they interact more often with their own folk and those of other races, they tend to value high charisma, and gain Bluff and Gather Information as class skills, adding half their level to skill checks in both areas. They must be masters of stone or metal work, and each priest of Barraj automatically gains one skill rank per level in an appropriate Craft skill (although he may take more if he wishes). Finally, the priests of Barraj are implacable enemies of the Undead, and automatically gain the Extra Turning feat at 1st level.

Alignment: True Good (Chaotic)
Sphere(s): The Dwarves, artisans (especially smiths), warriors
Sigil: Lagu’s sigil within an intertwined runic squarePreferred hues: Silver, black and greyPreferred weapon: HammerWorshippers’ alignment: Any good
Domains: Creation, Earth, Fire, Knowledge, Strength
Church: Major

Khallach, Master of Stone
(Greater Servant)

Khallach’s origins are as obscure as those of many of the Minions of Light. According to some legends, he spontaneously rose up out of the Earth the first time it was violated by the footstep of Bardan in the eons before the Age of Wisdom; while others believe that he is one of the Héahbeorgástr, the Mountain Spirits, elevated to the status of a Greater Servant for accomplishing some mighty task set him by Lagu in the distant past. Still others think that he is the progenitor of the Stone Giants.

Whatever his origins, Khallach remains one of the most elemental of the Servants of Light. His appearance is somewhat similar to a colossal stone golem, albeit of enormously greater substance and physical mass. His strength is incalculable, and is said to be greater than that of any of the other Servants or Powers, surpassing the might not only of Gargarik, Lord of the Giants, but even that of Morga himself. Khallach is said to be able to cause mountains to crumble merely by looking at them, and is able generate an earthquake simply by stamping his foot. He is widely revered by the Mountain Spirits (see below), the Stone Giants, and all creatures that make their homes in the Earth.

Khallach’s church, while small, is influential throughout the Dwarven lands, but it is mostly concentrated among the Hill Dwarves. He is revered not only as an implacable foe of evil, but also as the Cleanser of the Hillsides, and his clerics perpetuate this role, scouring barren lands for signs of evil, and exterminating them wherever they find them. Followers of Khallach have little use for authority and are often found among exiles, rebels and vigilantes. His clerics gain Survival as a class skill, and add their level to skill checks. They also gain an additional +2 on any skill checks involving stonework, and can Turn air creatures, and Rebuke earth creatures, as a Cleric four levels higher than their own. Finally, Clerics of Khallach are proficient in unarmed combat, gaining Weapon Focus (Unarmed) and Weapon Specialization (Unarmed) at 1st level. Finally, beginning at 3rd level, a Cleric of Khallach can cast Stone Shape once per day per 3 levels; and beginning at 6th level, he can cast Stone Tell once per day per 4 levels.

Alignment: Chaotic Good (Neutral)
Sphere(s): Stone, the mountains, the earth, earth creatures
Sigil: An erupting mountain within a double ring of runesPreferred hues: Black, blue, greyPreferred weapon: Unarmed
Worshippers’ alignment: Any good
Domains: Earth, Force, Oracle, Strength, Summoner
Church: Minor

Zoraz the Patient
Guradian of the Deepdark
(Lesser Servant)

During the Wars of the Powers shortly after the creation of Anuru, a sullen rivalry sprang up between Lagu and Zaman (as it did between many of the other Powers of Light and Dark). Their mutual dislike was deep and irreconcilable, not only because they stood opposed to each other across the gulf between the Anari and the Uruqua, but because Lagu stood as the champion of steadfastness and honour, while Zaman embodied treachery and betrayal. When the Powers came to create the Minions, however, the rivalry between Lagu and Zaman burst into full flower, for in the flurry of creation, each struck out at the same portion of the Aether with their formative might – and the result was a pair of twins, each a mighty Minion in his own right, and each an archon embodying the best (and worst) of his makers.

One of these twins was called Zoraz, and the other Zylurz. The two were as alike in appearance as peas in a pod, titanic beings with bodies of corded muscle, and heads like lions; and each was an exemplar of physical perfection. But in mind, they could not have been more different; for Zoraz was a being of calm, reflection, stolidity and patience; while his brother, Zylurz, was a being of chaos, whim, caprice and madness. Both were mighty warriors, skilled beyond belief, wielding double-bitted weapons in a frightening blur. But where Zoraz submitted his skills to Lagu, and became one of his lesser Servants, Zylurz ravened through Anuru like an uncontrollable, elemental force, until at last he was borne down by Zaman, and became her Avatar of Fury.

Zoraz is known by the Dwarves as the Master of Patience, and the Guardian of the Deepdark. He is revered by fine craftsmen: jewellers, gemcutters, gold- and silver-smiths, clockmakers and others who work at long, difficult, demanding tasks. Also, by virtue of his patience and skills as a warrior, he is the focus of worship for royal guardsmen, and is the patron of the Iron Guard, the elite war-masters of Non-Delvin under the personal command of the Emperor of the Deeprealm. A worshipper of Zoraz may try to talk his way out of an altercation, but he will never back down from a fight, especially when there are innocents to be protected. While there is no formal religion organized around his worship, Zoraz has many paladins, and a few clerics. Both paladins and clerics gain Sense Motive as a class skill, and gain the Two-Weapon Fighting feat at 1st level. They also gain Martial Weapon Proficiency and Weapon Focus in the two-headed weapon of their choice (Double-Bladed Swords and the Dwarven Ugrosh are the most popular choices).

Alignment: Lawful Neutral (Good)
Sphere(s): Skill, craftsmen (especially jewellers and gemcutters), elite guardsmen
Sigil: A double-bitted axe on a blue shield with a crenelated black border, bar sinisterPreferred hues: Black, blue and silverPreferred weapon: Double-headed weaponsWorshippers’ alignment: Any Good
Domains: Community, Glory, Knowledge, Protection
Church: None


Dargarulak, Avatar of Vengeance
High Priest of Battles

Dargarulak is an oddity: a human priest of Barraj, a man who was raised by the Mountain Dwarves after his parents were slain by goblins in the years following the Darkening of Bræa. Maturing more rapidly than his Dwarven comrades, Dargarulak became a mighty priest of the Soul-Forger in short order, and made a practice of leading his adopted people against the goblinoids, fighting from the front rank himself. While a superlative warrior, however, he was not a very good general; and one day his passion for battle outran his luck. He led his army, a thousand-score Dwarves, into a trap laid for them beneath the earth by certain of Bardan’s wilier minions, where they were cut off. Rather than see his subordinates be slaughtered, Dargarulak attacked the enemy captains personally, allowing his men time to disengage and extricate themselves from the trap – but at the cost of their general’s life.

Dargarulak’s soul returned to the Forge of Barraj, where he was examined closely by the Master Craftsman, and found to be a mighty servant of the light, but badly wanting in the area of leadership. Barraj therefore took Dargarulak into his own service, forged for him a new body, and created for him a gigantic mace of black iron that causes fear in all who see it, and that can slay any evil creature it touches. He then sent Dargarulak back to Anuru to battle evil – but forbade him from ever attempting to lead others. Dargarulak is revered by battle clerics, barbarians and any who seek revenge. His clerics are able to Rage as a barbarian of their level, and gain both Power Attack and Cleave at first level; but they are -5 on all Bluff and Diplomacy checks; they lose all divine powers until they can Atone if they ever retreat from a fight; and they may never take the Leadership feat.

Alignment: True Neutral (Lawful)
Sphere(s): Warpriests, warriors, those seeking revenge
Sigil: An inverted mace on a gold and red shield, flanked by two gryphonsPreferred hues: Gold and scarletPreferred weapon: Heavy maceWorshippers’ alignment: Any non-chaotic, non-evil
Domains: Chaos, Destruction, Madness, War
Church: None


(The Earth Mother)

Veróldmóðir, the Earth Mother, is a unique celestial being, one of the most powerful of the Minions of Light. She is empowered to enforce the will of Lagu throughout the foundations of Anuru, which requires close cooperation with Khallach (so close that she was even his Mistress, for a time). She is able to pass through stone at will, moving as quickly as she does anywhere else, although she cannot swim or fly. She can fall from any height and take no damage, so long as she lands on stone. She can also rebuke and command Earth creatures as an Epic-level cleric, although all good-aligned Stone creatures will obey her implicitly. She is constantly attended by Futhakolk, a Celestial Raven of immense wisdom, that was a gift to her from Esu when he was courting her in ages long past.
Veróldmóðir appears as an extraordinarily beautiful human female of average height and weight, with earth-coloured skin, brown eyes, and long, flowing brown hair. She normally appears wearing either white or earth-coloured clothing; and her only equipment is her sword, which hangs from her girdle of gold and silver nuggets. While slender, however, she is extremely dense, weighing several tonnes. She can modify her weight at will, but often forgets to do so, and as a result she often leaves deep footprints anywhere she passes.
Veróldmóðir has little interest in the affairs of any creatures other than humans, dwarves and Earth creatures in general (although she has a special place in her heart for Stone Giants, and they worship her). She ignores elves, plants and animals, except for those that live underground or tunnel through stone. Any Good creature making an offering of precious gems or metals to her, however, or endowing a shrine to her, may receive a visitation for the purpose of strengthening any structure he is building; and any Good caster who invokes her aid while constructing a clay or stone golem may find it strengthened considerably. It is common, particularly in Non-Delvin, Jarla and Ekhan, for architects to invoke the Earth Mother in their works, and even to set aside space for a small shrine to invite her aid. Such a shrine may be simple, but the floor, walls and ceiling must always be of rough, undressed stone. She has a very minor following; not a religion per se so much as the occasional Adept, Druid or Cleric, often among stone-dwelling races. Such casters gain the ability to cast Stone Shape once per day per three levels, and Stone Tell once per day per six levels.

Alignment: Chaotic Good
Sphere(s): Earth and stone creatures
Sigil: A mountain within a runic ring, inscribed “Veróldafl”, or “Truth of the Earth”Preferred hues: Stone-greyPreferred weapon: LongswordWorshippers’ alignment: Chaotic good
Domains: Earth, Strength
Church: Very minor

(The Mountain Spirits)

The Mountain Spirits are Minions of Light who dwell exclusively in the Earth. They answer primarily to Khallach, although they have been known to serve Lagu, Barraj and Zoraz from time to time. They also interact often with the Earth Mother. They tend to be neutral, albeit with tendencies towards good, and Khallach relies on them to drive evil from the mountains; to deliver messages to other Minions, Avatars, Servants and Powers; to explore the Earth for new marvels and treasures; and to destroy the minions of the Uruqua (principally of Daesuglu and Ekhalra) who pollute the pristine stonerealms of Anuru.

Mountain Spirits look terrifying; they appear to be colossal stone golems 30’ feet tall or more, weighing hundreds of tonnes, with intricately-worked stone carapaces. Due to their tendency to remain dormant and unmoving for years at a time, they are often covered in moss, bushes and even small trees. They project an aura of calm, and a long-dormant Mountain Spirit may even come to be used as a place of worship, with altars and even temples constructed atop them. Evil creatures, however, fear them and avoid them instinctively.

Mountain Spirits are immortal and very, very patient. While they can move silently and blend into rough stone faces (i.e. in mountainous terrain), in other surroundings they walk with a loud grinding noise, and when they desire, their steps shake the ground like an earthquake. They fear nothing; they can slaughter the mightiest of fiends with ease, and even the greatest of the dragons fear to challenge them. A Mountain Spirit can throw anything weighing up to 1000 pounds, although they tend to throw rocks weighing 250-500 pounds, with a range increment of 1000 feet. To the weak and helpless, they are extraordinarily gentle; and to good creatures lost in the mountains, they can be a friend and protector at need. Perhaps because they are made of stone, animals fascinate them, and they will sit and listen to dogs barking, wolves howling or even twittering birdsong, often for weeks on end. It is said that the singing of the Elves fascinates them.