Barbarians in Central Trid
In Part 1 of Religion of Trid, I discussed the Theocracy of Ard, which is about as far down the Lawful path on the alignment scale as you can get.
Today's entry covers the beliefs of a pair of barbarian tribes within Central Trid, the same region occupied by the Theocracy. Neither practices religion in the strict sense that the Ard do, but their respective belief systems are highly spiritual in nature.
The Illundii are a warrior culture, obligated to defend Nature. Men and women are equal in all matters. Children are taught to fight and hunt as soon as they can walk; all are passable warriors by puberty. During the Rite of Paths, adolescent boys and girls may elect to become Guardians or Animists, respectively. Not all Illundii choose, but those who do must endure a trial to attain the revered status associated with their choice.
Guardians are sworn to sacrifice their lives in defence of Nature, consisting of the earth, the wood, the waters, and the sky, and all the beings that they support. In the process, they guide the clan by example: hunting only what is needed; using every part of a kill for meat, tools, and clothes; containing settlements to avoid overcrowding; and resisting the encroachment of outsiders ignorant of Nature's ways.
Animists are taught to commune with the Natural spirits—the inherent essence of all things: trees, birds, wind, plants and animals, rocks, and insects. Service to an Animist might be dismissed as magic, and while the Animist's communication with the spirit is supernatural, the manifestation of their assistance is always mundane. Thus protection might be offered by a strong gust that blows enemy arrows off-target, healing might be delivered through a poultice of rare herbs, or enemies might be subject to a few well-placed lightning bolts.
This arrangement results from ancient pacts between the spirits and the Illundii, wherein the Animists call upon the spirits, and the spirits serve because of the protection given by Guardians. It's a spiritual love triangle: the only Illundii who can communicate with the spirits are Animists, and the spirits ignore any request from a non-Animist, though it is the Guardian whose protective vigil maintains the agreement.
The Narbon make their home along the shores of the Rebisus Sea. Society is comprised of hunters, fishers, warriors, and mystics. Chieftains are selected by the mystics, who consult an alien pantheon of aquatic spirits and picean deities for guidance in all things. Indeed, water is a revered element whose ebb and flow tells the cyclic story of life, with the power to heal and to destroy, to rise from the earth as a spring or to fall from the sky as rain.
Narbon homage is shown by assigning persons or places of great significance a Water Name (a palindrome, to the scholars), which illustrates how a thing's beginning invariably flows to its end in a simple and natural pattern.
The Isle of Piscicsip, in the Rebisus Sea, is a holy place for mystics, who must make a pilgrimage there as aspirants to take part in the Deep Trials. Success in the trials grants mystic status and earns the scaled hood of their office. The hood creates a link between the mystic and the aquatic entities who dwell in the Rebisus; only the mystic can interpret the visions it imparts (non-mystics risk losing their faculties or hurling themselves in the sea to discover the visions' origin).
Each year, a mystic may choose to return to Piscicsip to petition the aquatic patrons for a Sea Gift, which grants the mystic a power to be used either in the Narbon's general welfare or in advance of the patrons' needs on Trid. In game terms, a successful WIL (or WIS) check indicates a successful petition. Failure strips the mystic of some physical power (permanent wound, Fatigue penalty, or reduction in Constitution). A successful petition, however, grants (1d6):
- Ability to breathe underwater
- Ability to shapechange into aquatic animal (fish, crab, eel)
- Ability to use seawater as a scrying device
- Ability to gain sustenance from seawater alone
- Ability to summon sea creatures for aid
- Ability to act freely while submerged (i.e., unaffected by water pressure or resistance)
Advanced mystics (i.e., those with three or more Sea Gifts) carry a Sacred Shell, which allows them to commune with He Who Lies Submerged, the king of all aquatic entities, who dwells deep within the Rebisus and said to originate from a plane of pure water.
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