Friday, September 4, 2015

Hero-Cults of the Hill Cantons

It is known that in the post-Hyperborean period that the Godhead now revered as the Sun Lord roamed the world conducting great feats. Achingly similar stories of his virile prowess and —the bullwhipping of the Unachus, the jilting of the White Goddess, etc--are told throughout the known world. One school of contemporary thought maintains that the Sun Lord was merely a mighty folk hero, a fleshy mortal sac like you and I, another that the many and diverse manifestations are the work of many separate local heroes...

Secular champions of Solarity aspire to join and excel in membership of one of the myriad orders tied to the veneration of individual hero-aspects of the Sun Lord. While not-always-coherent—combining features of religious sub-cults, secret fraternities (or sororities), hygiene-product pyramid schemes and military organizations—the orders serve as an important supplement to the Overking's levies and small standing army.

In truth they also serve as an pillar for status jockeying of the wealthy (who can sponsor “surrogate knights” that legally owe all accolades, titles and bragging rights to their patrons) and the occasional hard-earned (and bribe greased) rise of a tough, resourceful citizen-soldier.
General Requirements of Membership
  • A horse, a suit of half-plate, the favored weapon of the order, the uniform of the order and a pouch of order-ordained fetishes and herbal smudges.
  • A retained man-at-arms in similar martial attire and horseflesh.
  • A leveled ranking as a fighting man or woman of no less than third and of noble or gentle birth (forging the pedigree certificate and bribing registrars for 50-200 gold suns is a well-known and public secret.)
  • A war-trained stallion of such quality that 250 gold suns would be your starting range (preferably of such exorbitant luxury that one should feel a sudden sense of anxiety and regret over the sticker shock at the end of the haggle).
  • The uniform of the order woven from Himyari cotton of the highest thread count (150 gold suns) or from the finest flumph-silk (300 gold suns).
  • A fluted suit of plate or half-plate heavily and richly embossed around a central circular design (leering deodands or empty-eyed cherubic faces being highly popular, usually weighing in from 200-1000 gold suns).
  • An elaborately etched burgonet or great helm with impressive crestage (wizened horns, tapered bird heads etc, 150 gold suns).
  • Two or more men-at-arms and a valet/fetishholder.
Cult Matters:
All ritters are required to bring themselves and their full retinues twice a year to the order's regional musters:
Winterkanc, a fortnight-long series of ceremonial reenactments of the hero's acts and life in the days before our dear Sun-Lord's annual step back from the arduous daily grind of riding through the sky 9-12 hours a day (not that's he complaining).
Sommeroct. A month-long series of elaborate and ritually-inflected “flower wars,” grooming classes, military drills, wrestling matches, weapons competitions, theological debates and skin-care day-spas.

The Big Name Orders
Puissant Scions of the Pointed Stick
Hero-Aspect: Adalfuns

Motto: It Is Better to Suffer the Rich Man's Needle than the Gate of a Horned Camel

Taboos: Crossing a river without three full stops and looks backward. An opponent worth fighting must be bandied with before smiting. Riddles must be answered.

Favored Weapon: Lance or Ostrovan pike. Sabre.

Uniform: Pastel tabard worn over puffed and slashed armlets and tights. The order's copper and lapis lazuli badge is worn on the right shoulder.

Favored Meaningless Alignment Choice: Chaotic, Good, Not-Asshole.

Perks: Mighty Jab, +2 to damage when using pike, lance, or spear. (4th level), Obfuscation, +2 to surprise following verbal bandiage (5th level), Jaunty Tune, resist fear-based spells or powers at +5 to saving throw (6th level). Command of a banner of 10 order brothers/sisters and retinue (8th level).

The Contumelious Companions of Owald
Hero-Aspect: Owald the Obtrusive. The fierce and eternally drunk slayer of Smak the First.

Motto: Here is the Primrose, Dance Here

Taboos: Rumination for more than a minute is to be strictly abhorred. A host-offered adult beverage must never be followed by less than a sip. The color blue is never to be worn.

Favored Weapons: Sword of illegitimate origin (coarsely titled a “bastard sword” by the ill-mannered). Horseman's flail.

Uniform: Ecru surcoat with personal device on the left shoulder and a furious sanguine sun ablaze mid-chest.

Favored Meaningless Alignment Choice: Lawful, Good, Irritable

Perks: Iron Liver, can drink as many drinks as CON without being intoxicated (4th). Resist Contemplation, +3 to any charm, suggestion, or other mentally-based magic (5th). Rivek's Ragequit. May voluntarily enter a berserk state (as per the berserker) for 1d3 rounds. On the final round of the state the ritter can elect to leave combat moving at double his movement without penalty or attacks of opportunity. (6th), Command of a banner of 10 order brothers/sisters and retinue (8th level).

The Golden Company
Hero-Aspect(s): Dalibor and Luboš 

Motto: Twinned Fate is Inexorable

Taboos: Passing twins without offering a gift of worth. The eating of beans and legumes.

Favored Weapons: Great Axe. Metal-banded wrestler's gloves.

Uniform: A black-and-white checkered long surcoat and white-plumed helmet with rough animal skin neck trim. Gold-plated wrestling belts.

Favored Meaningless Alignment Choice: Lawful, Good, Neutral, Supernal
Perks: Luboš's Laconic Clinch-Hold, a grappling maneuver at +3 STR up to 19 (4rd level). Twinned Image, as per the spell Mirror Image providing only one illusory self (5th level). Jaundiced Eye. +2 to hit any extradimensional creature (6th level). Command of a banner of 5 order brothers and a roll on a random wandering monster chart (8th level).

Lady Friends of the Unctioned Falx
Hero-Aspect: Vac the Virile

Motto: Warmth Above, Emptiness Below

Taboos: Using male pronouns for any man other than the Sun Lord. The eating of bread and foods rich in carbohydrates. Being a man (though since gender is a social construction this is more flexible than it appears).

Favored Weapons: Falx, a polearm topped with a long curving scythe-like blade. Preferably anointed weekly with sanctified small beer. Falchion or hatchet.

Uniform: Mustard-yellow sarong. Polished-steel breastplate with bronze inlay. Burgonet mandatory, always worn pushed back and high on the crown.

Favored Meaningless Alignment Choice: Lawful, Good, Neutral, Not Unctuous

Perks:Vac's Wonder-Hands, the grip in one hand is built up so strong as to be able to grip a falx in one hand and perform minor actions in the other (4th level). Detect Dissembling/Bullshit, as per Detect Lie spell (5th level). Drogo's Splintering Spine. Falx produces explosive d10 damage on a roll of “10” (7th) . Command of a banner of 10 order sisters (8th).

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