Of Gods and Cliffs

Seven or so months ago, I wrote about preparing to run a game called Whitecliff. At the time I said I’d be looking to start running the game some time in the middle of this year. For the first time ever, I may actually meet a deadline I mentioned on my blog…

Of course, in that post I also said that I’d post some world-building stuff on here over the coming weeks and clearly that never happened. I did throw some stuff up over at Obsidian Portal. I’ve since decided that Obsidian Portal isn’t good enough to warrant using it. So, I’m going to start writing some player-knowable stuff up on here.

The first story arc in the Whitecliff chronicle will be Forlorn Hope. It’s more of a prelude than a first arc and will almost certainly end with a total party kill. The chronicle will tell the tale of the settlement of Whitecliff, from its mysterious founding around a temple to the All-Mother with seemingly divine origins to, assuming we play the game for that long, its downturn and eventual fall. The settlement takes its name from the white cliffs that make the opposite bank of the river that the temple sits next to. At the start it’s a purely human settlement. The world has no elves or dwarves, but does have some other intelligent species. They will not be playable – at least not at first, maybe if history develops in such a way that Whitecliff becomes a multi-racial settlement that will change.

But that’s not what I want to write about today. Today, I want to tell you about the gods.

The All-Mother

Before time began, the Creators each made a Greater Plane. The three planes were carefully positioned such that they intersected at the point midway between two of the most powerful wellsprings of primal energy. The area where they overlapped is the Divine Space. Within that space they created three large worlds, each created of equal measures of the three planes but with one plane first among equals – the Feywilds, the Shadowlands, and the Natural World.

To oversee their creation, they created the All-Mother and in doing so set time in motion.

The All-Mother is an exceedingly powerful being. The next most powerful beings – the six Divine Forces and various Planar Guardians, are many orders of magnitude beneath the All-Mother. But such power comes at a cost. Entire worlds are mere specks in her vision and even the three core worlds are small enough that she struggles to focus on them. Seeing the actions of individuals within that world is much like a person trying to see the actions of the cells that make up their bodies.

On the Natural World, history is broken into ages. An age ends when something happens that causes the All-Mother to directly intervene. Even her most careful, surgical interventions are cataclysmic.

But she is the font of all life on the three core worlds and it is to her embrace that all life returns and so she is rightly revered by all.

The All-Father

After creating the Divine Forces to watch over the Divine Space for her, the All-Mother created the first of the angels to help her create life on the core worlds. To a group of them she set the task of gifting a select few species with sapience. The angels toiled for millennia, but drew no closer to their goal. One of their number grew restless and travelled the Divine Space looking for inspiration. The others called after him and cursed him for seemingly abandoning his task.

Finding no answers within the Divine Space, he broadened his search to the three Great Planes. He travelled their breadth and their depth. In the Great Plane of Body, he survived hordes of elementals trying to feast on his divine essence. He crossed the impenetrable Wall of Elements and surveyed all of existence from the Elemental Guardian’s tower. In the Great Plane of Mind, he fought off curiosities and found his way through the Labyrinth of Thought to the Considerational Guardian’s library. In the Great Plane of Soul, he battled doubts and joys and travelled past the Glade of Sentiments to the Emotional Guardian’s Hearth.

Having surveyed all of existence and found no answers he returned home to the All-Mother. As he walked back into her presence, the final piece of the puzzle clicked into place for him and he showed her the secret of creating sapience.

For his dedication and service, she raised him up to be the first of the Gods – more powerful than any being in the Divine Space bar the Forces themselves, on par with the planar beings that answered to none bar their Guardian. Gods would act as the intermediaries for the Forces. Large enough to interact directly with the Forces and the All-Mother, but small enough to see individual creatures on the worlds.

The Patron Gods

The All-Mother created a new species on the Natural World, humans, and the All-Father gave them the gift of sapience. And then he watched them grow. After a time there were so many that he could not watch and care for them all and still tend to other duties and plans. And so he sought amongst the humans a handful who could take some portion of his responsibilities. He watched every human and selected eight heroes to become the Patron Gods.

The Patron Gods are the most powerful of the Gods excepting only the All-Father himself, though they have created a host of lesser gods to aid them in their endeavours. Other gods have also been created, though not by the All-Father, and whilst most of those are but a candle to the Patrons power, there are some who rival them.

Most other gods are either region-specific or have a very narrow portfolio. But every human civilisation has paid attention – be it reverent, fearful, or hateful – to the Patron Gods.

Fionella Dragon-Tamer, the Weaver

A skilled water elementalist, Fionella held a family of fire dragons at bay whilst her village fled to safety. She held them off for long minutes, but then the two largest dove at her simultaneously from opposite directions. Moments before they could strike, the All-Father appeared behind her. He blocked the larger of the two with his shield, stunning it and shattering its snout. The smaller’s head was cleaved with a single flicker of his blade. Fionella collapsed from the burns and exhaustion and the All-Father caught her in his arms. When he stood her back up she had been ascended to godhood. The All-Mother bestowed the title of ‘the Weaver’ upon her for her skill with water magic. She later earned the name ‘Dragon-Tamer’ after training Baraxos Broken-Snout to be her mount.

She is now revered as the Goddess of water magic, domesticated animals, community, revelry, and duty.

Banjahdo Beast-Slayer, the Grief-Stricken

Banjahdo was a straight forward man with no family or profession of his own, he lived and worked for his brother’s family mostly carting stone. A particularly harsh winter forced his tribe to abandon their village and head to warmer climates for a time. On the journey, a blizzard separated Banjahdo and his brother’s family from the tribe. They headed towards nearby shelter, but were attacked along the way by tundrabeasts – pony-sized wolf-like creatures with powerful limbs and vicious attitudes. Banjahdo charged at the beasts, buying time for his brother and sister-in-law to carry their small children to safety. He killed one of the beasts, before the claws of another tore his chest open. He fell to the ground, but still grabbed hold of the leg of one of the beasts. As it turned to bite him, the All-Father appeared in a flash of light that terrified and scattered the tundrabeasts. He knelt by Banjahdo and spoke, a glow from his hands knitting Banjahdo’s flesh back together. And so Banjahdo was the second human to be ascended to godhood, earning the name “Beast-Slayer”.

He is now acknowledged as the God of might, family, trade, self-improvement, and grief.

Six More To Follow

In coming days you’ll get to read about:

  • Naajae the Dancer’s besting of a demon;
  • Enyden the Insightful’s unassuming brilliance;
  • Brave Ikhael losing his hand;
  • Iseana the Painter taking her vengeance;
  • Learned Witanzimwah’s wanderings; and
  • Taetaami the Healer’s sacrifice.

At least, I hope that it’s days. You know me and saying I’ll post more regularly…

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