Maska, the Wolf Lord

Background

What people know about the gods is not always true.

In one village, it is known that Maska, the evil Wolf Lord, tries endlessly to kill Elita the Monarch Deer, protector of the world and kind benefactor to its people. In another, Maska is a trickster who pulls people away from those they love, while Elita teaches them the stories of togetherness and support. In still others, Maska is a dangerous hero, he who would face the armies of the Fair Folk while peaceful but frightened Elita runs away to hide. People simplify the world, and project their own feelings onto the gods, and remember jokes that their grandmother told them as if they were truth.

In truth, Elita and Maska are brother and sister. Yes, they fought from time to time, as any siblings would, but they worked together to protect their people and teach them to survive as best they could. Was Maska a bit of a joker? Was Elita too cautious for her own good? Maska tells it that way, at least – but they were family, and they loved one another.

It came as painful news to Maska, then, that Elita lay injured in the forest. A sparrow-spirit told him, and he rushed to her side as the blood dripped from her. Maska saw that Elita was weakened and needed every scrap of power she could get. He also knew that Elita shared her power with her priests. Taking Boral as a priestess, as was destined the next day, would cost her dearly. The only way Maska saw to prevent Elita’s death was to take Boral as his own priestess. Elita passed her debt to Maska, and he fainted from the strain.

When he woke up, Elita was gone. Maska sought her, but could not find her, not in the heavenly city nor in the woods of his people. He sought out Boral, but she rejected him as a tormentor and adversary. He eventually found Ishowo and her people, and joined them to defend the villages of the Glen, on the condition that they would help him find the deer goddess when all was done. He would prefer to seek Elita out on his own, but knows that Boral is his responsibility too. He is too stubborn to leave her on her own.

Appearance

maska-500

Maska wears very dramatic clothing: black, high-collared robes that flare around his wolf feet, dark necklaces with large stones, blush for his cheeks and kohl for his large green eyes. People often don’t notice his wolflike hands and feet. His hair is brown with reddish tones. His skin is pale white, and he wears his robes open to emphasize his bare chest.

Demeanor

Boisterous, funny, often sarcastic, Maska is a natural leader. He tried to take leadership of the group by downplaying Ishowo’s skills, and found himself instantly put straight by everyone around him. Ishowo has overlooked his previous asinine behavior because she needs Maska’s initiative and drive right now. She can’t trust Mari the coward or Sia the opportunist to train these villagers. Koyo isn’t bright enough, Margery isn’t strong enough, Ramia’s too nervous and Ivy’s too alien. Ishowo delegates some leadership to Maska because he’s the only one for the job. He’s not used to being trusted – who gives a wolf a job? – but something within him wants to step up to any challenge.

He’s also conflicted. His instincts tell him two different things at once. Save my priestess. Save my sister. Teach these people. Test these people. Life is all a joke. This is all deadly serious. I am just a toy. I am a god. Sometimes he’s even more lost than Boral is. Of course, most of that is his own fault, and he finds that bitterly funny as well.

More than anything, Maska is stubborn. Once he decides that something needs to be done, he’ll try one thing after another to get it done. This tenacity can make him predictable and easily manipulated, but like most trickster gods, he doesn’t take lightly to people manipulating him. It’s bad for the rep.

Intimacies: My sister Elita must be found (defining), Teach my people (defining), You can’t tell me what to do (major), Boral is my responsibility now (major), Everyone needs to loosen up.

Capabilities

As a wolf, Maska is a natural pack hunter. He’ll circle around to strike from behind, nip to distract, grab axe hafts and run away with them, distract people when they’re about to be shot. As much as he’s a diva at home, in combat he’s the ultimate team player.

Maska has a great deal of natural charisma. The villagers enjoy hanging out with him in the chilly evenings as he tells stories around a campfire. He can’t command the instant attention that Ishowo or Margery can, but he forms strong bonds quickly.

Though he is a god, and technically a spirit, Maska lives most of his life in physical form. He loves the feeling of the wind on his face and the ground beneath his feet too much to live as pure spirit. He can still dematerialize, but it takes him great effort.

Maska is particularly good at reading people: knowing what their limits are, what the best way is to approach them, how to get them to trust him.

Supporting Characters

  • Reto Wolfhand, his distant priest. Animated, professional, philanthropic.
  • Enily Rosemaryhand, a would-be worshipper here in the valley. Fretful, alert, goal-oriented.
  • Kewin Herdhand, who doesn’t trust Maska. Petty, forceful, pretentious.
  • Petros Trapperschild, a young child who calls Maska “Puppy!” Loud, fearless, energetic.

Questions

  • What do other gods and spirits think of Maska?
  • Is he really a god, or does he just think he is?
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Sky Touches Earth, God of Tribute

Background

Yu-Shan is a bureaucracy. It has scribes, accountants, lawmakers, actuaries, overseers, notaries, adjusters, assistants, advisors, supervisors, judges, advocates, censors, and investigators. Sky Touches Earth is the last of these: a celestial investigator. He is summoned when there is suspicion of a misdeed among the spirit courts of Creation.

That’s the theory, anyway. Practically speaking, he needs a summons from the acknowledged leader of a spirit court. That summons must be properly signed and counter-signed, and must pass across the desks of a half-dozen indolent officials before it reaches him. With most of Creation’s spirit courts in disarray, these summons typically never even make it to Yu-Shan in the first place. Sky Touches Earth should be phenomenally overworked. Instead, his name has become depressingly ironic over the last fifteen hundred years.

In the meantime, Sky Touches Earth has become one of those indolent officials himself, lounging in the baths of heaven and enjoying the perfect weather. His purview as God of Tribute keeps him well-fed with ambrosia and rarer treats. He needs do nothing to maintain his domain; tribute will continue to flow across Creation without his action. (This is one of the reasons he was chosen as an investigator.) Every century or so, he answers a petition, which usually involves him standing around while another god uses him as political leverage, and his skills go unused. It’s like a week-long vacation from an eternal vacation.

This time, things are different. Ten Thousand Verdant Shoots seems very serious about putting him to work, and quickly. On one hand, he suffers from the pain of the privileged – actually doing one’s job? On command? What a chore. On the other hand, there is a part of him that is slowly awakening to this task. He feels his purpose calling to him. The disruption of the dragon lines in the Pearl is a genuine mystery, one that tugs at his interest and draws out skills long atrophied by disuse. He feels like he should – he must – find the culprit.

And afterward? Punishment for the godly is a joke in Yu-Shan. Sky Touches Earth knows this as well as anyone. Whatever god caused the issue, their case will sit on the docket for years, perhaps centuries, before some undoubtedly inappropriate punishment is handed down. Yu-Shan’s bureaucracy has many things, but someone who will take responsibility is not one of them.

If he is to feel satisfaction, Sky Touches Earth may need to take that responsibility into his own hands.

Appearance

Sky Touches Earth 500

Sky Touches Earth has metallic skin, with all the wrinkles and imperfections of true human skin. Small wings sprout from behind his ears. His eyes are dark; his curling hair and his well-trimmed beard are the same steely color as his skin. He typically appears naked. Glowing cyan shapes appear across his back and arms like tattoos. His voice is soft, but cuts through all conversation. It is impossible not to hear him if he is nearby.

Demeanor

Both insolent and serious. Sky Touches Earth acts like a spoiled adolescent who has been called on to do a chore, but also like a professional detective whose nose has been drawn by a crime. Both of these things are at war within him. He has difficulty letting go of either one.

For the most part he’s quiet, speaking when spoken to or when he has a pointed question to ask. It’s hard to tell from the outside whether he’s being contemplative or petulant. He’s always formal with the more important deities, but has little patience or respect for mortals with their mayfly lives. He’s quick to let people know that they probably have better things to do than watch him work. His frustration with his own lack of talent is likely to show at some point.

Intimacies: “Tribute must flow” (Defining), “I will find the truth” (Major), “The Maiden of Secrets” (Major, Negative), “The Sidereals” (Negative), “A life of leisure” (Positive)

Capabilities

As a heavenly investigator, Sky Touches Earth knows how to examine a crime scene, profile a criminal, and ask the right questions. He can see the traces that essence leaves on the world. A taste of dirt will tell him whether mortal soldiers or undead warriors marched upon it. Scenting the wind in a burned-out grove will tell him whether the fire was set by a Dragon-Blood or a demon.

His skills are fairly amazing… but he’s a bit out of practice. A little behind the times, and somewhat rusty. He might not have known that House V’neef existed before he came here. He’s not used to juggling a dozen potential suspects in his mind any more, and has a difficult time understanding the motives of people who aren’t themselves indolent celestial officials. He can’t tell who’s watching him out of curiosity and who’s a spy.

Should someone be so foolish as to assault Sky Touches Earth while he is pursuing his duties, they will be guilty of offenses against Yu-Shan itself. He will angrily remind people of this if they threaten him. The official penalty is one day of spiritual torture for impeding his progress, seven days for striking him or interfering with his investigation, and death for anyone who discorporates him. He has the authority to suspend any or all of this sentence, if he so desires.

If he does find himself in a fight, he has plenty of power to burn in his defense. His godly senses point out weak points and likely stratagems. He fights unarmed with an ancient variant of Crane Style, allowing him to retaliate against those who would strike him. He can soar through the air gracefully, hurl his foes a great distance, and quite literally smack some sense into his opponents. He typically has detailed knowledge of those who assault him, and can use their own Intimacies against them. His opponents often come to realize the errors of their ways and beg forgiveness for their actions. He’s glad to give (or at least feign) such forgiveness… so long as his defeated foes can give him something he wants.

Supporting Characters

  • Akta Ketaxa, a spy for the King of Kindness who is following Sky closely. Indecisive, careful, insightful.
  • Whisper of Faith, a lesser spirit of truth who takes notes for Sky. Sedate, clean, sentimental.
  • Upraised Eyes, Goddess of Praise, Sky’s superior in the heavenly bureaucracy. Capricious, affectionate, lazy.
  • Igi Lotoklo, the pedicab driver who takes Sky from place to place. Polite, industrious, clumsy.

Questions

  • How badly atrophied are Sky Touches Earth’s skills? How likely is he to accuse the wrong person?
  • What if the Background section above were a lie? What if the fading tribute paid to the Scarlet Empire by their satrapies is depriving Sky Touches Earth of spiritual power, and he’s decided to take the tribute for himself directly?

Ten Thousand Verdant Shoots, Rice Goddess

Background

The Lakes District provides many foods to the Realm, and none of them are more important than the long-grained wild rice that grows in its streams and on the shores of the lakes. The hard, black seeds of this grass travel well, and even the stalks are edible. Those accustomed to the short, lighter grains grown elsewhere in the world may be taken aback by its appearance, but there are many who come to prefer it, and the Pearl’s rice is in high demand across the Realm.

Where there is value and desire in Creation, there is a god. Ten Thousand Verdant Shoots is the goddess of the wild rice, and perhaps the most powerful god in the Pearl. She has watched over and fed her people for thousands of years. She has led the spirit court here since before the Fair Folk invasion. It is her political acumen (and, from time to time, her battle staff) that has kept that court orderly and productive.

Verdant Shoots has seen dozens of rulers come and go in the Pearl. During the Shogunate this land was independent, and practically ignored by the rulers of Creation. After the invasion, the Realm prioritized securing every inch of coastline in Threshold. That included traveling up the lakes. Verdant Shoots made promises to the newborn Realm, and followed through on them, giving her the respect and support she needed to rise to prominence. She has encouraged, bargained, and occasionally browbeaten the other gods in the region into making this place a peaceful and beautiful land where the entire pantheon is supported by the population.

When the dragon lines over the lakes weakened, Verdant Shoots was the first to notice. She grilled her spirit court intensely on the matter. Many of them would have preferred to keep the matter secret, fearing an inquisition from Yu-Shan. Instead, Verdant Shoots made the fact public, and demanded an inquisition. She brought the question to the Court of Seasons, who set Sky Touches Earth to investigating the matter. She brought it to V’neef Kharavi and questioned her about the new sorceress she had adopted. She left no stone unturned in her quest – and came up empty.

Verdant Shoot’s primary rivals are the nearby lake gods. She has long played them against one another so that they cannot form an alliance against her. Bakdan-O is the strongest among them, and she worries that he may be the one stealing the worship that is due to the entire pantheon. With that power, he could dominate the other lake gods and come to threaten her position as the leader of the spirit court.

Appearance

Ten Thousand Shoots 500

The first thing people notice about Verdant Shoots is her magnificent headdress, covered with rubies, gold, and feathers. She wears primarily green, and carries a long green staff. Her skin is tanned; her eyes, dark; her hair, black. Her face looks painted, but this is simply who she is.

Like most gods, Verdant Shoots has several alternate forms: a long-legged green heron, a cloud of pollen, and a brilliantly-colored water snake. She appears in these forms mostly to make a point, rather than to gain a tactical advantage.

Demeanor

Commanding, intense, and unrelenting. Even when she appears amongst the population, watching a ballet performance or walking through the marketplace to bless the rice vendors, Verdant Shoots has an unimpeachable air of importance. Her every act makes it clear that she is here, now, because she considers this very moment consequential. Now that she is being investigated by Heaven, Verdant Shoots is also noticeably agitated. She stops short of snapping at people, but not by much. Some people even whisper that she has seemed distracted and preoccupied.

Verdant Shoots sees V’neef Kharavi as a potential ally, but one with more time to spend before she has truly paid her dues. Twenty-plus years is not so much time to a god. The two have a tacit agreement: Kharavi leads and legitmates the prayers that keep essence flowing to the spirit court, and Verdant Shoots shows her the public respect that allows Kharavi to keep doing her job.

If there is one group that Verdant Shoots treats with unfailing respect, it is the young and the weak. She herself was once the patron of just a single river and the rice in it. She knows well how quickly fortunes can be reversed in Creation.

Intimacies: “I lead the spirit court in the Pearl” (Defining), “Peace in this land” (Major), “Bakdan-O” (Major, Negative), “The other lake-gods” (Negative), “V’neef Kharavi” (Positive), “The ballet-house on the shore in Sandpiper” (Positive)

Capabilities

Ten Thousand Verdant Shoots has two fairly narrow areas of expertise. Naturally, she knows about her crop: growing and harvesting, buying and selling, storing and preparing. Some of this transfers to other fields – for instance, she knows when a merchant is trying to cheat her by overpricing merchandise or offloading goods that are about to spoil. She is also a savvy politician with centuries of experience. Her maneuvers are deft and subtle. She knows how to handle both gods and mortals. Though the Chosen still manage to surprise her from time to time, her support base is large and loyal enough that even they have difficulty outfoxing her. Her personal presence and sharp wit only add to this.

Beyond rice and politics, she has many interests, but few skills. She enjoys taking in artistic performances, but can’t dance or create sand mandalas herself. She appreciates the applications of mathematics and geomancy, but has never taken the time to study them. Like most gods, she is highly focused on her specialized field.

When confronted with belligerent young gods or Chosen, Verdant Shoots strikes with a long green staff. She moves quickly and directly, with all the power that befits her position, but without much grace. Her targets must contend with a rotting fungus imparted by the staff (treat as snake venom) that can be passed from the targets to those who touch them. The mantle of her authority makes it difficult for the weak-willed to attack her in the first place.

Supporting Characters

  • Chanapta, God of the spring, when the rice shoots begin to grow. Frantic, gullible, aspiring.
  • Xaxaxa, God of the harvest. Genial, ambitious, realistic.
  • Bakak-autl, Goddess of storms. Pretentious, adventurous, remorseful.
  • Obatlak, Goddess of travel and time. Refined, pushy, accepting.

Questions

  • Is Verdant Shoots honest in her demands for an investigation, or is she doing this in order to frame someone? Did she actually divert the dragon lines herself?
  • Does Verdant Shoots know about Vatli Butterfly and her future?
  • Does she know that Peacebringer and her servants are in the Pearl, and what their goals are?

Starsight, the Prophet

Background

Not every god on the Continent went to fight the Luminous Godkiller Weapon. Starsight was a goddess of the future – not prophecy, but the things that are to be. She saw her own death in this battle, and defied fate to avoid it. She pleaded with her brother Telar Thousand-Eyes not to go. He said that she was deserting her fellows when they needed her the most, and begged her to come. She stayed. He died.

Starsight lost a little of herself in the Holocaust of the Gods. She was one of a very few gods who didn’t go, and the only one in what would become the Badlands. When the rest of the gods died, people abandoned her as well. In addition, she had broken her own power by choosing the future rather than merely observing or announcing it. No longer an ephemeral being of essence and concept, she lives now in the physical world. She’s less in command of her powers, and more at their whims.

She saw all of this. Starsight chose this fate intentionally. She knew that her vision of the future was a true one – that the fight against the Luminous Godkiller Weapon was meaningless, and that her help would be needed to defeat the horrific thing once and for all.

Since her fall from grace, she has risen to lead a group of desperate peasants living in the Badlands. They have built a shelter around one of the few remaining springs. The people call it Clearwater. There, she has gathered to herself some of the powerful individuals who still live in the Badlands. She guides folk hero Yatna Modan to the things that will keep her people moving, keep them alive, for another week or another day. She sends message back and forth with the mad inventor Jek Eikar, discussing the secret of what is happening to this world. She has seen that No Memory is coming, and she eagerly awaits its arrival.

Appearance

The Prophet 500

Starsight wears dark, shimmering clothing and a variety of jewelry. Her skin is dusky, and she might easily be taken for a member of almost any family. She often wears a hat or other ornamentation over her eyes during the day. When seen at night, her eyes are a deep, star-filled purple with no whites.

Demeanor

Mysterious and intense. Being a living enigma is part of who Starsight is; she’s incapable of being less vague when leaving out information will achieve the same goals. She knows that her world is ending, but refuses to go quietly. When people ask her why they should keep struggling for another day, she replies that every life matters. She knows that her power is part of a greater plan, which she calls the Will of the Maker, and she tries to instill that belief in others. A tiny part feared that her decision to change her fate would break that plan, but her faith crushed that part and put it out of her mind.

Starsight will keep working to the end of her world to keep people alive and safe. Part of that is survivor’s guilt, and part of it is who she has always been.

The people whom Starsight leads sometimes feel manipulated by her. She treats them with respect, but sometimes refuses to tell them things about the future. It’s one thing when a newly fallen god leads your people to safe food and water; it’s another when she uses her position to have you build an airstrip for no discernable reason. The people follow her because they know that she’s brilliant and she won’t let them die, but they aren’t so certain sometimes.

Intimacies: “We will end the Weapon” (Defining), “I should have done more to save the gods” (Major), “My people” (Major, Positive) “Cathak Venkan” (Positive), “Karal Volan” (Negative)

Capabilities

Starsight is still new to the physical world. Her physical power is still building. At first she needed a wheelchair; then she needed crutches. She has only recently been able to walk without a cane. It’s also easy for her to be overwhelmed by sensory input – thus her tendency to cover her eyes. All this will become easier for her in time, but she knows she may not have the time to wait.

As a goddess of futures, Starsight once inspired others with her powers. She was a conduit for prophecy, and those she touched could see a vast array of possible futures spreading out before themselves. They would babble pieces of those futures, and others would be left to interpret them. Now that she is trapped in the physical world, Starsight sees those futures directly. Her brilliant mind interprets them and shows her the implications of each choice. She knows what she could do in order to make a particular future come to pass. She knows what sorts of things she cannot change. She can still choose – but sometimes her choices are more constrained than she would like. Worse, she knows that the more information she gives about the future, the less control she has over how things turn out. The choices that other people make matter as well. Whether she lets them make those choices will depend a lot on how much she trusts them.

On a more mundane level, Starsight is a learned and competent leader. She speaks the language of the Time Before and the Imperial tongue of the Splinter. She is passionate and compelling when speaking with individuals, but lacks the strength to project to a crowd. She lacks technical knowledge, but can often cover for that with her ability to see a few seconds into the future.

If pressed into a fight, Starsight will be almost impossible to strike. She’ll choose to take a hit only when it gives her an advantage. In her current state it’s difficult for her to strike back. She often brings an honor guard when meeting with newcomers – not because she knows they’ll attack, but because it sets a good precedent for others to be wary. She’s more likely to take small, strange actions around the battlefield than to strike others directly. Sometimes these set up her eventual victory. Sometimes they’re just to frighten her opponents into thinking that she’s setting up victory. Sometimes that’s enough. Starsight is well aware of the effectiveness of psychological warfare.

Supporting Characters

  • Fenek, her physical assistant at Clearwater. Brutish, gentle, compassionate.
  • Uhara, Clearwater’s construction foreman. Businesslike, loud, careful.
  • Otilando, who leads Clearwater’s (mostly unsuccessful) hunters. Demanding, intrepid, worried.
  • Mesha, who keeps an eye on the Straits of Silk in case River Island comes to finish them off. Observant, calm, bored.

Questions

  • What does Starsight foresee when it comes to Creation?
  • Can Starsight see the past?

The Ticking Mask, Parasitic God

Background

Cynis Operations has many valuables stashed in a vault near the Imperial Mountain. Most were left behind in case the Cynis family might be able to return. Some have been transferred to a safe on board the zeppelin No Memory in case the mission demands them. Others have been put to use. The Ticking Mask falls into the final category.

The Cynis family has had the mask show up again and again, like a bad penny. They throw it into the sea, it washes up at their citadel. They burn it to cinders, it appears in a storeroom. They have no idea why it’s attached to their bloodline in particular. Cynis Operations took it as part of a bargain a year or two back – a negative entry in the ledger.

When not worn, the mask asks to be worn. When worn, the mask ticks like a clock, constantly. It cannot be removed. Just when the wearer gets used to the ticking, it changes, or skips a beat. The sound and its changes converge to slowly drive the wearer mad. That’s when the ancient god trapped within the mask takes control.

Ordinarily this god seeks out forbidden knowledge. It’s not subtle. Sometimes it succeeds, but it always gets caught. Its bearer gets killed. The mask gets destroyed. It comes back and whispers for someone else to put it on. This time, things are different. Cynis Operations found a despicable prisoner to force the mask upon and made a deal with the god. It helps them save the world; they give it Yushoto Koletta‘s design journals. It agreed. Even such a god does not want to see the world end.

Right?

Appearance

The Mask 500

The mask’s current bearer is a man of average height, with blue eyes, peach-colored skin, and curling brown hair. The mask itself has a golden base, with strange lenses, hoses, and gears on the outside that seem to serve no purpose. When the mask has no bearer, orange goat-like eyes look out from within.

Demeanor

The mask-god seems to have no long-term goals beyond a drive to gain information. It never uses the information, never seems to care who wears it, and doesn’t care what happens to them afterward. “Amoral” is the perfect word for it. Its style is efficient and creative, but it’ll drop that in an instant if being wasteful will get what it wants.

Intimacies: “Learn everything before the world ends” (Defining), “Get Yushoto Koletta’s journals” (Major), “People in my way” (Negative)

Capabilities

The wearer of the Mask becomes capable of Protocol use. While not a true Technologist and incapable of Alchemical Workings, the wearer can still gather essence from the Splinter to create powerful magical and alchemical effects.

Among these Protocols are: the control of mindless automata; crawling up walls and along ceilings with legs of pure lightning; becoming a thick cloud of smoke and traveling about a hundred meters; a blazing net of burning oil that harms only those who try to move through it; steam bursts from the ground that slow or trip up its opponents; opening doors with a beautiful crystalline key regardless of locks or bars; and taking on a body of pistons, gears, and chains that vastly enhance the user’s physical prowess. Its Protocols are primarily those that draw on the alchemical elements and use them in an advantageous manner, rather than directly attacking with them. It has proven capable of direct assaults, such as summoning great columns of hornet-like needles crackling with electricity, but it rarely does so.

The host’s original body provides the god with its native strength and grace (or lack thereof). In this case, the prisoner was strong and slow. The prisoner’s mind dominates early on, but this slowly changes. The Ticking Mask is both brilliant and short-sighted. It takes unnecessary risks without seeming to realize or care. At the same time, it uses Protocols in clever and creative ways. It’s audacious, but it’s only aggressive when cornered. When the Ticking Mask cannot avoid battle, it unleashes massive devastation and moves on quickly, often leaving survivors behind.

The extent of the god’s knowledge is uncertain. It seems to at least know that which its host knew, but it occasionally shows flashes of insight about places that no human has entered for centuries. It speaks the language of the World Before as well as the language of its host.

The mask’s alchemical capabilities do not depend on whether the god of the mask has taken over. Whomever puts it on gains its powers immediately, along with full knowledge of how to use them.

Removing the mask kills the wearer.

Supporting Characters

  • Peleps Yumi, the previous bearer. Adventurous, daring, foolish.
  • Mnemon Entar, who studied the mask years ago before Peleps Yumi stole it. Meticulous, cautious, introspective.
  • Cynis Riiks, who stopped Peleps Yumi and recovered the mask. Brave, powerful, slow.
  • Cynis Ehnavo, the prisoner forced to wears the mask this time. Cruel, callous, vindictive.

Questions

  • Is the god of the mask actually in charge yet, or is this still the prisoner slowly losing his mind?
  • What happens to the mind and soul of the mask’s wearer? Are they consumed by the mask’s god, or do they live on, trapped inside?

The Raiton Queen, Goddess of Sorcery

Background

During this fallen age, sorcery is not what it once was.

Oh, certainly, the Dragon-Blooded teach certain of their children to shape the essence of the world. The Chosen of the Moon and the Maidens have their own magi, fewer but more powerful. And yet the greatest masters of sorcery have disappeared, gone as if they had been locked away, for over fifteen hundred years. The Raiton Queen, once-mighty goddess of magic and power, suffered greatly from this. She was not the goddess of meager magics or the everyday elemental powers of the dragons’ children. No, the Raiton Queen was the goddess of the most powerful magics. The day the Old Realm fell, her grace ran from her like rats in the night.

Her life in the intervening time has not been pleasant. In the old days she lorded her might over other gods, and in her weakness they stripped her of everything she cared about. Her mantle, her land holdings, her palace in Yu-Shan, her myriad of servants, even her own sorcerous workings all across the North. She wandered, weak and pitiful, from village to village, seeking charity. The curses of her enemies gave her no rest. Eventually she found a cave to hide in, and the wings of her namesakes covered her like blankets as she slept the Long Sleep.

All of that changed five years ago. Slowly, in bits and scraps, her power began to return. She felt her old places of power calling to her, pulsing with essence. One of these is an ancient, crumbling castle on the edge of Slumbering Grasp’s eastern glacier, overlooking the valley. This is her present home while she waits for the remainder of her might to return.

In the meantime, she has carefully scried this valley, seeking out those with sorcerous potential. Such a place, quiet in its politics but rich in supernatural potential, seems ideal to her. In such a place one could build power – over centuries if need be. Revenge will be sweet.

Appearance

The Raiton Queen 500

The Raiton Queen drapes herself in a robe of feathers, black with green iridescent green highlights. Some of these feathers come from the flock that surrounds her; others came from her own hair. Her skin is the color of the moon overhead, and she paints her eyelids and lips black to accent this. Her eyes are dark green.

Demeanor

In a word, arrogant. She is not demanding of those who are not sworn to her, but neither does she bow or show respect. She always speaks as if to an audience. She paces and laughs, chewing scenery like a cheap actress.

The Raiton Queen has nothing but contempt for Yu-Shan and its representatives. Her requests to heavenly authority went ignored for the past fifteen hundred years; she expects nothing from them now. Her one ally (real or would-be) is the Goddess of Snows, around whom she is deferential, almost needy.

Intimacies: “If sorcery doesn’t solve your problems, you’re not using enough of it” (Defining), “I protect the ancient knowledge” (Major), “The world must be stable enough that I might change it”, “Those who hunt my flocks” (Negative), “The Goddess of Snows” (Positive)

Capabilities

The Raiton Queen is a sorceress capable of the Solar Circle. At this time her workings are still weak and slow, her essence sluggish to respond. As time goes on and the highest circle of sorcery is employed more often across the North, she will gain more power. Her knowledge of sorcery is still crystal-clear, but her ability to implement it still lags. Casting spells of any circle can leave her breathless, and sorcerous workings weaken her.

She has few skills beyond sorcery. She speaks only Old Realm. She knows nothing of politics or history for the past thousand years. She cannot build, sail, ride, or hunt anything that is not related to magic. She is phenomenally durable, but needs to prepare for specific contingencies if she is to be effective in combat.

The Raiton Queen is trapped in physical form and banned from Yu-Shan by the curses of her ancient foes, many of whom have forgotten she exists.

Supporting Characters

  • Ilari, a ritual assistant recruited from Slumber’s Grasp. Unfriendly, meek, exacting.
  • Vattru, who feeds the birds. Quiet, pensive, wary.
  • Yrjo, a traveler from farther north ensnared by the Queen’s majesty. Feisty, vain, amorous.
  • Toivo, an elk-hunter from Slumber’s Grasp who has seen the Queen in his travels across the mountains. Pleasant, intelligent, foul-mouthed.

Questions

  • Has the Raiton Queen been changed by the emergence and influence of necromancy?
  • In her scrying, the Raiton Queen must have noticed Dead Galor. Whom else might she have spotted? How much does she know of the events transpiring in the valley, and how much of it is correct?

Kushi, The Tinker Goddess

Background

Red Jade Canyon has become a ghost town over the past year, since the collapse of the mines. Long ago, however, this was not the case. The mines here were some of the finest work of the early Scarlet Empire, using purely mechanical energy driven by metal windmills and steam from deep fissures in the mountainside. Thousands of engineers came over the decades to see such beautiful workmanship and careful planning. It was in this reverent admiration that Kushi was born.

Kushi is a goddess of engineers, of designers and mechanics, and she grew with the fame of her mines. When they were built, she was a young girl, no more than a toddler walking all unexpected through the palace. When they were open to visitors from the north, she was of courting age, and then an adult heavy with child. Then, as fewer and fewer people came to visit, she began to regress. She was an adult woman, then a young woman, then on the cusp of womanhood, and soon she will be simply young again. The mines remain as they are, partly working, partly abandoned, and Kushi, thirteen and yet seven hundred, wanders the mayoral palace and confuses visitors. Most people don’t even know what she’s the goddess of anymore. The maids think she’s the goddess of useless trinkets.

She looks behind curtains and under beds, ruffles through papers, sifts through the morning ash piles. She eavesdrops on conversations and speaks up unexpectedly. She wanders into the mines and fixes cart wheels or chain links. She examines at the ancient machinery and shakes her head sorrowfully. She builds strange, half-functional little things out of metal foil and silverware, then watches them spin sadly to the ground. The maids have a collection of the strangest and most beautiful ones in an unused shelf of the pantry. She is perhaps a little broken, perhaps just highly introverted. In any event, she’s clean and doesn’t endanger anyone, and can occasionally convince Ieska not to kill someone in a fit, so the servants tend to do as she asks. She is a goddess, after all, no matter how small.

Yu-shan has not noticed Kushi’s absence from the south. She was always somewhat quiet and local. As far as the few who remember her are concerned, she has merely become more so. A small shrine to her exists in the inhabited part of the canyon, where people leave small broken things and fried lotus buns. Both things disappear; the broken things are sometimes returned in better condition. The Guild leaves a great tithe for her when they pass through – repairs are vital to them.

Appearance

Kushi

Kushi is a slender youth with light brown skin and dark eyes. Her thick black hair cascades halfway down her back. She wears simple clothing and small diamond earrings.

Demeanor

Kushi is quiet and curious. She’ll inspect nearly anything without invitation or permission. When confronted, she stops doing what she’s doing and typically goes back to it later. She talks the most when approached respectfully and asked to share her thoughts. When asked about machinery she responds with highly technical language that takes an expert to understand.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, Kushi remembers being an adult, and is especially frustrated that she isn’t treated like one any more. She has no idea what she’s looking for in the palace. She can’t remember what she can’t remember, and it’s maddening – but entirely on an internal level.

Intimacies: “Build, design, and analyze” (Defining), “Ask Questions” (Major), “Being treated like a child” (Negative), “Tinkers and engineers” (Positive), “Find out why Ieska is always so mad”

Abilities

As a goddess of engineers, Kushi is familiar with all manner of machines, from simple levers and pulleys to the construction of warstriders and airships. She can repair most of the devices of this fallen age in minutes or even seconds. She can also tell exactly how something was broken, and sometimes even glimpse the event itself. This and her keen intellect make her an excellent investigator.

The one thing Kushi can’t maintain is herself. Despite her spiritual nature, she too is a machine, and the spiritual circuitry within her is winding down.

Kushi flees combat. When she was older she might have constructed bizarre machinery out of nearby objects to defend herself and others, but she lacks both the confidence and the power to do so again.

Supporting Characters

  • Therinja Toman, ex-Guild tinker staying in the canyon. Kind, introspective, clever.
  • Shifata, a child about Kushi’s apparent age who finds her fascinating and follows her around. Questioning, observant, procrastinating.
  • Faidan, god of the Tinker’s Road that once led engineers through the mountains to Red Jade Canyon in a beautiful glass-covered trek to the mines. Ancient, tired, fatalistic.

Questions

  • What happened to Kushi’s child?
  • How will Kushi react when she finds out that the mine collapse was sabotage?
  • What will it take to repair Kushi? Will spreading her fame and worship be enough, or will she need something more?