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Gods of Mythosa - Alyara
Copyright ©2000 Bruce A Gulke

The World of Mythosa is a fantasy setting that, like many, has been in development for many years. Since its birth in the late 80's, it has gone through a variety of changes, maturing as a world as I have matured as a player and gamemaster of fantasy RPGs. It is currently undergoing its latest, and (hopefully) final revision.

The following is an excerpt from the newest revision, detailing Alyara, Mythosa's goddess of light, love, and healing (probably the only truly "good" god in Mythosa's pantheon). It is provided as an example of a well-developed religion that can be used "as-is", or as a model for your own world. Game statistics are provided at the end for players using AD&D, but the description can be used for most any fantasy RPG (though currently home to AD&D campaigns, Mythosa has been used for other games, including Rolemaster, in the past).

There are a number of references below (names and places found elsewhere in Mythosa) that will likely be unfamiliar to the reader. These will be covered in future installments, but feel free to use your imagination to puzzle them out in the meantime.


Physical Description

The goddess Alyara is portrayed in three different guises: the Maiden of Love, the Lady of Light, and the Merciful Queen. The Maiden of Love is a young, beautiful woman with long flowing hair, clothed in naught but radiant light. The second form, the Lady of Light, is a friendly-looking, middle-aged woman dressed in a yellow-white robe. The third incarnation, the Merciful Queen, is a kindly old woman. In this form, Alyara is clad in a white robe, sashed with red, and bears a staff of yew with laurel trim.


Correspondences
Spheres of Influence Healing, love, light
Holy Symbol A yellow metal disk, shaped like a radiant sun, with a dove etched into the center
Priestly Title Sisters of Hope and Desire
Primary Temple Ilmara
Clergy Honorific "Holy Sister" (no name), or
"Sister {name}"
Celestial Body The Sun
Month Halember (second month of summer)
Weekday Gaestahg (sixth day of the week; also "Day of Healing")
Hours Dawn, mid-morning, noon
Element Water
Colors White, yellow, gold
Metals Gold, bronze
Gemstones Diamond, ruby
Incense Sandalwood, rose, thyme
Woods Laurel, yew
Herbs/Plants Ash, jasmine, aloe
Number Three
Beasts/Animals Dove, phoenix
Locations Open, well-lit areas
Places facing the east
Direction East
Holy Days Midsummer
Last day of Scordelos, the first month of spring (Amoratahg, the Day of Lovers)


Notable Prophets & Priests

Sister Brevyra Tanalos
The Sister Tanalos became immortalized in the annals of church history during the Plague of 1432. Though Sisters are blessed with immunity to disease, some unnatural property of the plague enabled it to strike them down the same as any other. As a result, the priestesses hid in their temples, rather than going out to the masses that needed whatever healing or comfort they could provide. Brevyra Tanalos, a young acolyte of the Ilmaran temple, decried this behavior, and defied the orders of her superiors by leaving the temple and going out to those suffering from the terrible disease. Though she quickly contracted the Plague herself, she continued to heal and console the sick until her own death a month later. Shamed by Brevyra's sacrifice, the other priestesses of the temple followed her example. Though it cost many their lives, their work was not in vain, for the subsequent work of the Sisters helped to halt the spread of the Plague (though they were unable to actually cure it).

Sister Maxia Lyrradąs
Sister Maxia Lyrradąs founded the Daughters of the Light, the militant, Undead-fighting order of the church, over 600 years ago. Shortly after being admitted to the priesthood, Lyrradąs' home village (many miles from her temple) was destroyed by a necromancer and his Undead minions. The Sister vowed revenge, and spent the next ten years studying both Undead lore and martial disciplines. After finding and destroying the object of her vengeance, Lyrradąs founded the Daughters, to pass the legacy of her studies.


Cultural Philosophy

Human - Hassite
The Imperial Church of Aegar has officially discouraged worship of Alyara, but they quietly tolerate her veneration among the commoners of the Empire.

Human - Khazrani
The Khazrani have a high degree of respect for all three aspects of the goddess. There aren't many Sisters among the nomadic tribes, but those who serve her are given complete protection and hospitality.

Human - Marrshite
Marrshite attitudes for Alyara vary greatly; in Ilmara, Lhyrna, and the Empire of Syrhaat, Alyara is adored and her priestesses are highly regarded. However, outside of these kingdoms, few Marrshites worship the goddess (though they are quick to give her lip-service when they need healing or a love spell).

Human - Varghani
Among this predominantly desert-dwelling people, the Lady of Light is highly revered. There is a high concentration of Sisters of Hope and Desire to be found in this region, with a large temple located in the city-state of Oasys.

Drakari
The Drakari have twisted the religion of Alyara. They hate light, see no need for healing, and misinterpreted the true meaning of love. To the Dark Folk, Alyara is a divine harlot and her worship constitutes a degenerate orgy of depravity. She is known as Decate to the Drakari, and is worshipped jointly with her rival, Hhiltara the Damned.

Viss'takh
The lizardmen respect Alyara, primarily because of her connection to Ramm, but they neither worship the goddess nor seek her priestesses for aid.

Orcazhai
Many of the Children of Shaarizad consider Alyara to be an enemy of their creator, and thus, their enemy. These orcs and their kin have no qualms about attacking Alyaran temples and shrines, and have been known to attack heavily-guarded settlements for no other reason. Most orcazhai, however, tend to have little or no regard for Alyara.


Essence of the Faith

Purposes and Objectives
This cult exists that others may find the joy of the Light, love, and the healing power of the goddess. The Sisters have no real agenda, and exist primarily to serve others.

Sociopolitical Power
The cult has a small amount of influence due to their healing but overall they are not that powerful. Despite this, it is recognized as a grave transgression by most cultures to violate the sanctity of an Alyaran temple.

Preferences and Prejudices
Overall, the faith of Alyara is fairly neutral in its dealings with others. The church does have some dislikes, though. They are not fond of people whose profession focuses on killing (mercenaries, assassins, etc.), nor do they care for the cults of the war gods (despite the belief that Alyara is related to Ramm in some manner). The church is an outright enemy of the cult of Hhiltara, and (as recent events would have it) the priests of Shaarizad.

Alyara's followers are rather friendly with the cults of Baltur and Dynera. They do not approve of some of the tenets of the Code of Baltur, but they understand the principles on which they were founded.

Though there are claims to the contrary, the church of Alyara is not prejudiced against men. However, they do believe that men are too aggressive to properly serve the goddess as priests; thus, only women can be clerics for the goddess. Men are not forbidden from joining the laity, however.


Organization

Internal Structure
Each temple is lead by a triumvirate of priestesses; each High Priestess represents one aspect of the Goddess (Maiden, Lady, and Queen). The rest of the sisterhood generally follows no particular hierarchy, though age and clerical power tend to contribute to an unofficial ranking system. Shrines to Alyara (basically satellites of the temples) are usually administered by a single Sister as part of her training for becoming a High Priestess.

Sources of Revenue
Temples of Alyara rely on private donations for their support (shrines receive support from their superior temple). Some are on retainer to certain noble houses or merchant families; these temples give preferential treatment to members of those houses or families (all who require healing are served, but no one ever said what order had to be followed).

Places of Reverence
Places that are holy to Alyara are regions of healing, sunshine, and romance. These include (but are not limited to) forest glades near clear streams, desert oases, and verdant meadows.

Temple Architecture
Temples dedicated to the Lady are generally circular, with white stone and brick walls centering around a courtyard. In the center of the courtyard is a fountain, in the middle of which is erected a statue of the Triple Goddess. The fountain is the altar of the faith, and its waters have healing powers.

Shrines to Alyara are similar to in construction to her temples, but they lack a healing fountain. Instead, the shrines have a smaller idol of Alyara.

The temples contain a number of small rooms (outside the courtyard). These rooms include clerical cells and places used for the care of the sick and wounded.

It is said that consecrated grounds of an Alyaran temple or shrine will prevent the Living Dead from treading upon them. Whether this is fact or just a myth is unknown, though such a thing would not be a surprise to most people.

Clerical Raiments
During religious ceremonies, the Sisters of Hope and Desire dress in robes of white with gold trim, with laurel wreaths on their heads. The three High Priestesses each wear a different colored robe: the Priestess of the Maiden wears light red, the Priestess of the Lady, yellow, and Priestess of the Queen dons a light blue robe.

While "in the field", or tending to everyday activities, there are few restrictions on what Sisters may wear (outside of evidence of their faith - i.e.; their holy symbol). Given their nature, the priestesses tend to wear flattering attire that emphasises their physical gifts.

Ceremonial Traditions
The central tradition of the religion is a ritual known as the Renewal of the Fountain. During each weekly ceremony, the Sisters cut themselves on the right arm and let fall a small amount of blood into the temple fountain. This serves to show their devotion to the goddess, it provides the fountain with its healing power, and is said to be symbolic of an ancient notion of the religion that says for a life to be saved, another must be lost.

Factions and Orders
The church of Alyara has two special orders within its clergy, the Daughters of the Light and the Scarlet Maidens.

The Daughters of the Light are the closest thing the religion has to a "fighting arm". They are dedicated to hunting and eliminating the Undead. Less jovial and more militaristic than other Sisters, they are nevertheless extremely effective in their pursuit of the destruction of the Living Dead.

Though the primary temple of the religion is in Ilmara, the Daughters are headquartered in a fortress west of the city, on the edge of the Varghani Desert. The abundance of Undead in the desert's ruins keep the priestesses quite busy.

The Scarlet Maidens exemplify the "love" aspect of the religion, primarily that of physical love. The Maidens are highly skilled in "romantic" disciplines, and are responsible for a rather sizable portion of the church's monetary income.

The Maidens can be found in most cities, with Ilmara and Zeldora being home to the largest concentrations.


Organization

Laity
To become a lay person of Alyara, an applicant needs only a devotion to the precepts of the church. However, those who engage in "death-related" occupations (warriors, assassins, etc.) are discouraged from joining.

Laity are required to aid those who are hurt, and must assist the priestesses of their local temple or shrine during times of trouble (plague, wars, etc.). Benefits of being a member of the laity include quick access to healing, and an increased resistance to common diseases. Penance for wrong-doing is based on the severity of one's transgression. It may range from indentured servitude for a period of time, to assisting priestesses in particularly plague-stricken areas, to expulsion.

Priesthood
To become a Sister, an applicant must meet the admission requirements for the laity, with two additional stipulations: they must be female, and must never have taken a life (even in self-defense).

Duties of the Sisters include healing those in need, regardless of who they are (followers of Hhiltara, Shaarizad, and Tehmorix are exempted), and aiding those in love with whatever means are necessary.

There are a couple of restrictions on the Sisters. First, they may never wed unless they their relationship has been blessed by Alyara, who will make her approval or lack thereof evident. Second, a Sister may never kill or willingly harm a sentient being, even in self-defense (this restriction is lifted in the case of intelligent Undead, worshippers of Hhiltara or Shaarizad, or any orcazhai).

Favors granted by the goddess include healing powers (naturally), immunity to natural disease, the ability to purify water, and the power to repel the Undead.

The penalties for sins against the church vary; they may range up to excommunication or a ritual known as the Blood Sacrifice. If a Sister has committed a grave enough transgression to be excommunicated, she may seek forgiveness by participating in this ritual. There are a variety of elements to the ritual, but it focuses on the priestess having a massive amount of her blood drained into a temple fountain. According to the ritual, if Alyara believes the woman truly regrets her action, she will survive and be allowed to continue to serve the faith.


Views on Other Faiths

As related by Sister Arashi Talamir, priestess of the Sacred Mosque of the Goddess (Shesada)

Aadu - Destruction, Entropy and Chaos
This unnatural creature is a foul stain on the divine tapestry! No good can come of a religion dedicated to destruction. We must embrace life and live it fully - not seek out its premature annihilation.

Aegar - War, Storms and Smithying
While the Storm God's smiths are master craftsmen, they would do better to apply their skill to endeavors other than warfare. Like their Flameknight counterparts, the Stormraiders do little more than revel in death and destruction.

Aeryand - Wealth, Wine and the Sea
It would be an insult to call the priests of Aeryand greedy drunkards - most drunks don't possess nearly the avarice necessary to be a true Harvester! The excesses and debauchery of Aeryand's religion makes one wonder if this faith truly has any purpose in the first place.

Baltur - Strength, Protection and Justice
The Code of Baltur is flawed and a bit extreme, but the Virtues of this religion are admirable qualities for the Knights to uphold. The priests of Aegar and Ramm tend to be little more than savages, but Baltur's priests maintain a high level of dignity and seemliness. They are to be respected.

Dynera - Nature and Fertility
The Lifegiver and its priests are a peaceful folk, shying away from the destructive or debauched natures of many other religions. Dynera and the Myrshae consider life to be sacred, as should we all. While this deity seems more concerned with plants and animals than people, this religion is one of the few outside Alyara that is worthy of worship.

Hhiltara - Fear, Darkness and the Undead
Just as the goddess Hhiltara has no place among the divine, her twisted and depraved worshippers have no place among mortalkind. The Shadowlords and their Undead cohorts are unnatural, an abomination to the Light. It is our duty to destroy them wherever they may be found!

Hukko - Trickery, Deception and Debauchery 
It has been said that Hukko finds life "irreverent"; a statement supported by the behavior of his priests. Hukko is like an unruly child, lacking any sort of morals or ethics, and it is his religion, not life, that is truly a joke.

Iberis - Knowledge, Travel and the Arts
Inquisitors are an interesting lot. Many of them take themselves a bit too seriously, but those who partake of the arts tend to be more affable. Now if only they could be convinced that knowledge should be applied in a beneficial manner, rather than simply gathered for its own sake...

Lis - Death, Sleep and Dreams
It is indeed a sorrowful event when healing fails us, and a soul must depart this world for Lis' marbled halls. But we take comfort in the fact that the departed will then be free to travel to their next destination, rather than be trapped in some necromantic automaton. Lis is a enigmatic goddess, as are her priests, but thankfully, the Gatherers are a mystery rather than a terror.

Ramm - War, Vengeance and Passion
Ramm and Aegar are both destructive, aggressive deities. The evil that has been wrought in their names is terrible. However, while Aegar appears to be beyond redemption, Ramm has a healthy respect for the Light. There may yet be a small amount of hope for him and his Flameknights.

Shaarizad - Evil, Death and Darkness
For years we believed that Hhiltara was the darkest enemy of the Light, until the Darkfiend was resurrected. A vile deity, it spawned the orcazhai which have plagued the other races for years. Shaarizad is to be considered an enemy of the faith, perhaps even moreso than the hated Hhiltara!

Tehmorix - Pestilence and Famine
Contrary to the perverse ideology held by the Children of the Plague, disease and famine do not "strengthen" a people! To actively spread vehicles of death is a ghastly concept, and creates unnecessary work for the Sisterhood. Tehmorix is a vile being, undoubtedly spawned from the same pit as Hhiltara.


SISTER OF HOPE AND DESIRE - A NEW PRIEST CLASS FOR 2ND EDITION AD&D

A custom priesthood dedicated to Alyara is described below. This class was designed using the Player's Options books, specifically Skills & Powers and Spells & Magic.

Spheres, Major:
All, Charm, Creation, Elemental Water, Healing, Protection, Sun

Spheres, Minor:
None

Other Abilities:

  • Detect Undead
  • Expert healer
  • Immunity to natural disease
  • Lay on hands
  • Resist energy drain (15 pts.)
  • Turn Undead
  • Armor restriction (5 pts.)

Other Notes:
The Sisters of Hope and Desire are not given to engage in adventure. However, it is not unknown for a Sister to accompany a band of brave explorers, if only to insure their safety.

Shrines to Alyara have the power of Turning Undead at the 7th level of ability. This power takes effect against Undead if they attempt to come within five feet of the shrine. Even if an Undead creature is able to resist the turning, if they leave the "sacred ground" of the shrine and attempt to re-enter, they must check against turning again. (It is left to the DM's discretion whether this power works against fiends/demons as well).

The Turn Undead power of Alyara's shrines works the same way for her temples, though for those the power is at the 14th level of ability.


Glossary of Mythosan Terms

Altaenea - With Ryh'ardha, one of known Mythosa's two major continents.

Drakari - A subterranean humanoid race, originally descended from a surface-dwelling people (who they destroyed in an ancient civil war). [Not Dark Elves, but similar]

Hassites - One of Mythosa's four major human cultures. Hassites are a fair-skinned people, and make up the majority of the Ulthian Imperium (commonly known as Ulthia), a large empire in southwestern Altaenea.

Ilmara - Large city-state found on the coast of Ryh'ardha. A cultural and trading center.

Khazrani - One of Mythosa's four major human cultures. The Khazrani are made up of nomadic, plains-dwelling tribes, and are generally considered barbarians by the rest of the world. They are found on the steppes of southeastern Altaenea.

Lhyrna - Feudal kingdom found in northwestern Altaenea.

Marrshites -One of Mythosa's four major human cultures. The Marrshites are primarily a sea-faring folk, dominating the islands and coastlines between the continents of Altaenea and Ryh'ardha.

Orcazhai -A brutish, ugly race, more commonly known as 'orcs'. [However, the name also encompasses goblinoid races, ogres, trolls, and similar creatures]

Ryh'ardha - With Altaenea, one of known Mythosa's two major continents.

Syrhaat - A large, matriarchal empire located in northeastern Altaenea. Syrhaat is arguably the oldest country in the known world.

Varghani - One of Mythosa's four major human cultures. The Varghani are a nomadic, desert-dwelling people, living in the eponymous Varghani Desert of western Ryh'ardha.

Viss'takh - A reptilian humanoid race. [Mythosan lizardmen]

Zeldora - Merchant city found in northwestern Altaenea. A place where it is said anything can be had - for the right price.

Editor's Note

AD&D is a trademark and copyright property of Wizards of the Coast and used with permission. Please post your comments on this article on the Dungeons and Dragons Discussion Board.

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