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Mephibosheth
2006-08-11, 03:39 PM
The Callers of the Summer Rain

http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h197/Mephibosheth85/Rain.png
Note: *This is an organization created for use in the Tears of Blood (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=world;action=display;num=1121098590) campaign setting, currently being created here at Giantitp.com. *The above link contains summaries of many of the setting-specific information used in this write-up. *I apologize for the specificity of this organization. *Hopefully it will prove easily adaptable to non-Tears of Blood games.

General Background
The early months of summer in Pahal (http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f273/Tantolian/Maps/TOB-MC7a.jpg) (the large peninsula located west of the Al Barajah Desert) are among the hottest and driest months the region suffers. *Plants wither and die, wild animals and livestock become emaciated and lethargic, and life in general seeks nothing more than escape from the heat. *Humankind is no exception to this imperative.

As long as the Pahali have worshiped the gods, the Callers of the Summer Rain have preserved the vital ritual known as the Shaagyaa, which is believed to please the rain god, Bharshii, and bring the life-giving summer rains to the region after the hard months of early summer. *A small, dedicated group of priests, monks, and hunters, the Callers have taken upon themselves the responsibility of conducting the Shaagyaa and protecting the Shaagyaa cat (a large cat, usually a tiger, that is chosen to be sacrificed at the end of the Shaagyaa ritual) as it wanders the land. *They regard their mission as of utmost importance, and are ruthless in ensuring its proper completion. *At any given time there are between 50 and 60 members of the organization, most of them involved somehow in catching and protecting the Shaagyaa cat.

The Shaagyaa ritual is an exceedingly complex and difficult one to complete. *In late summer (after the rains have begun), the hunters of the Callers (known as the Hands of the Rain) venture forth to capture the Shaagyaa cat for the next yearís rituals. *The cat must conform to a bewildering number of requirements, and only the most perfect animal is chosen for the ritual. *Once the perfect animal is found and captured (no easy task, since the animalís blood must not be drawn in the process of its capture), it is brought to the priests for purification. *The purification process takes one week to complete, and involves bathing the cat repeatedly with purified water from the River Jiva. *After the purification is complete, the animal is released and allowed to roam the countryside for 10 months, during which period it cannot be touched by human hands or the ritual will fail. *During the catís travels, the Hands of the Rain follow it and ensure that no unwitting hunter or farmer lays a hand on the sacred animal. *At the end of the 10 months, the Hands herd the cat back to the priests, who ritually sacrifice the cat to Bharshii, ensuring another summerís rains.

Purpose
The Callers of the Summer Rain exist for the sole purpose of catching the Shaagyaa cat, purifying it with the necessary rituals, protecting it as it roams, and conducting the proper sacrifice at the end of the catís wandering.

History
No one knows when the Callers of the Summer Rain began their rituals, but even the oldest texts and tales refer to the organization and its ritual. *It would seem that the organization has been around as long as men have worshiped the gods.

The Callersí unknown founding notwithstanding, the chronicles are full of stories about the ruthlessness of the organization and the importance of its mission. *Thrice in the memory of man has the Shaagyaa failed, once because a perfect animal was not captured, once because the cat was touched during its wanderings by a farmer trying to drive the cat away from his livestock, and once because the cat killed the priest on the alter and escaped before the sacrifice could be completed. *Each time the ritual has failed, the summer rains havenít come, and the land has suffered immensely from the resulting drought.

Alignment
The Callers of the Summer Rain are Lawful to a man, caring about little more than keeping with the dictates of the traditional rituals. *They are almost all Neutral as well, seeing their actions as working toward the good of all but not above committing heinous and ruthless acts to ensure its proper completion.

Resources/Benefits
The Callers of the Summer Rain are incredibly well-funded and well-equipped. *Wealthy patrons from all over donate generously to the organization to ensure the prosperity and fertility of their lands. *The organization can easily acquire any item or service valued up to 50,000 gp, and can more likely than not acquire items and services valued at much higher amounts, should the need be dire.

Members of the Callers are marked with a tattoo on their right cheek that shows the symbol of the organization and marks them as members. *These symbols almost always gain their bearers discounts on most services, usually around 15%. *Often temples will heal and equip members of the Callers for next to no fee.

Gather Information/Knowledge DCís
DC 10: ďThe Callers of the Summer Rain? *Sure, everyone knows about them. *They conduct the Shaagyaa ritual and ensure the summer rains. *But donít cross them, or youíre liable to be hurt bad. *They donít sanction interference with their rituals. *If you see someone with one of those rain tattoos, stay away if you know whatís good for you.Ē
DC 15: Details of the Shaagyaa ritual and the doctrines of Bharshii.
DC 20: Details of the location and current membership of the Callers, the status of the current ritual.
Adventure Hooks
While wandering in the wilderness for some reason, hunting PC's happen upon the Shaagyaa cat. *If they make any threatening gestures toward the cat, the *Hands of the Rain will intervene. *How will the PC's handle this sort of intervention?
The Hands of the Rain are able to subdue the PC's who had attempted to attack the Shaagyaa cat, but the Hands were impressed with the PC's abilities. *They heal the PC's and offer them the opportunity to apply for membership in the organization.
The PC's are sent by their patron to apply for membership in the organization. *Their patron hopes that they will provide him with an eye and and ear inside the organization and that his "offering" of new members will make the organization more friendly to him.
The PC's are sent by their patron to kill the Hands of the Rain and ruin the ritual. *Whether or not the PC's go along with this assignment is up to them.
The PC's attempt to touch the Shaagyaa cat and, in the ensuing battle with the cat's guardians, kill the Hands of the Rain assigned to guard the cat. *Soon thereafter, a member of the Callers appears in the midst of the PC's and attempts to force/persuade them to take the place of the previous Hands, if only temporarily.
As above, except the Callers of the Summer Rain distribute the PC's names and descriptions far and wide, inciting hostility against the PC's wherever they go. *How will the PC's deal with the situation?

Mephibosheth
2006-08-11, 03:40 PM
Membership Requirements
The Callers of the Summer Rain are very demanding on those seeking to join the organization. *Only the finest hunters, most devout and knowledgeable priests, and pious monks are allowed to take part in the rituals. *The current members scrutinize all applicants and select a new member from the most accomplished. *It is common for the application process to include intense combats, long debates with scholars, difficult wilderness survival/tracking exercises, and similar tests. *Only the best are admitted to the organization.

Authority Figures

Shikah Ė Supreme Hand of the Rain: (Male Human [Pahali (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=world;action=display;num=1121098590; start=30#30)] Ranger 10/Hand of the Rain 10)
Shikah is the current leader of the Hands of the Rain, organizing all Hand activity with ruthless efficiency. *He is an aloof, almost cruel leader, who is fanatically devoted to the ritual and to the organization.

Padari Ė Head Priest: (Female Human [Pahali] Cleric of Bharshii 20)
Padari is the head priest of the Callers of the Summer Rain, determining when the ritual is to begin and dictating the completion of the ritual itself, including the sacrifice. *She is far warmer and friendlier than Shikah, and makes more effort to ensure that no one is hurt by the conduct of the ritual that Shikah does. *The two occasionally clash over the proper methods of conducting the ritual.

Other Important Figures

Rishi Ė Scholar: (Male Human [Pahali] Monk 15)
Rishi is the most learned scholar in the organization and is frequently consulted on matters of the proper conduct of the ritual. *In his youth he love to accompany the Hands on their hunting trips, but he now prefers to remain with his studies and meditations.

Racial Makeup
Only Pahali humans are members of the Callers of the Summer Rain, merely because the organizationís sphere of activity is limited to Pahal and so few outsiders live in the region.

Classes
Clerics, Druids, Monks, and Rangers dominate the membership of the Callers of the Summer Rain, to the extent that there are very few members who arenít members of these classes. *Few if any members ever have levels in NPC classes.
Ranger: 50%
Cleric: 25%
Druid: 10%
Monk: 5%
Other: 10% (mostly Scouts, Fighters, and Paladins)

Mephibosheth
2006-08-11, 03:40 PM
The Hand of the Rain

Requirements: BAB: +6
Skills: Survival 13 ranks, Handle Animal 8 ranks, Craft (Trapmaking) 5 ranks
Feats: Track
Special: The character must swear an oath to uphold the practice of the Shaagyaa ritual at all times and to never allow anyone to touch a purified Shaagyaa cat
Hit Dice: d8

Class Skills: Balance, Climb, Craft, Escape Artist, Gather Information, Handle Animal, Heal, Hide, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (nature), Knowledge (geography), Listen, Move Silently, Ride, Search, Spot, Survival, Swim, Use Rope
Skill Points per Level: 6 + Int modifier

http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h197/Mephibosheth85/HandoftheRain.jpg

Class Features: Favored Enemy: Beginning at first level, a Hand of the Rain gains Favored Enemy (animal) as the Ranger ability, with the exception that the bonus to damage only applies if he/she is dealing non-lethal damage to the animal. *At fifth level and again at tenth level, the bonuses increase by two as shown on the table. *If the character already has Favored Enemy (animal) as a class ability, the bonuses stack. *Additionally, at fifth level, the Hand of the Rain gains Favored Enemy (human), with bonuses beginning at +2 at fifth level and increasing to +4 at tenth level. *Unlike with Favored Enemy (animal) however, the bonus to damage applies when dealing either lethal or subdual damage.
Trap Focus: Beginning at first level, a Hand of the Rain gains a competence bonus to Craft (trapmaking) checks equal to his/her class level. *This bonus applies only when the trap he/sheís creating is intended to trap rather than draw blood. *Pit traps (without spikes), snares, nets, magical traps that immobilize or capture, traps that deal subdual damage, and similar traps all fall into this category.
Improved Bullrush: At second level, a Hand of the Rain gains the Improved Bullrush feat, even if he/she does not meet he prerequisites for the feat.
Baleful Transposition (Sp): Beginning at third level, a Hand of the Rain gains the ability to use Baleful Transposition (Spell Compendium) as a spell-like ability once per day. *At sixth and ninth level, he/she gains an additional daily use of this ability.
Subdual Efficiency: Beginning at fourth level, a Hand of the Rain becomes increasingly adept at dealing subdual damage with a weapon normally intended to deal lethal damage. *The penalty for dealing subdual damage with these weapons is reduced to -2. *At seventh level, the Hand of the Rain can deal subdual damage at no penalty
Intercept: Beginning at 10th level, a Hand of the Rain can attempt to charge and bullrush anyone he/she can reach in a charge as an Immediate action. *Additionally, he/she gains a +4 bonus to the bullrush attempt as a result of the charge instead of the normal +2 bonus, and he/she gains a +4 dodge bonus to AC against attacks of opportunity incurred while making this bullrush attempt. *This ability can be used twice per day.

Bharshii - She who nourishes
[list] Symbols - a grey cloud heavy with rain, a drop of water, a plow, a tiger or other large cat
Alignment - CG - Bharshii is as unpredictable as the weather, but is a benevolent deity and almost always listens to the prayers of her devotees.
Portfolio - Nature, rain, water, agriculture, weather
Domains - Plant, Air, Healing, Renewal (Spell Compendium), Storm (Spell Compendium)
Favored Weapon - Shortbow
Description - Bharshii is the Pahali goddess of rain and water, sending life-giving rain to the fields of the Pahali and ensuring the success of their agricultural endeavors. *She is a benevolent, motherly goddess who remains close to humanity while many of the other gods stand aloof from the troubles of the Pahali. *Additionally, while her general attitude is one of benevolence, her emotions are as changable as the wind. *If she is angred, or if her sacrifices are not completed however, she can become capricious and spiteful.

Bharshii is most often depicted as a young woman working on a farm, sweating profusely. *She is often depicted as having four arms. *With two of these arms, she steers a plow through the earth. *With a third, she wipes sweat from her brow with a towel, and with the fourth she wrings out this sweat onto the earth as rain. *Her skin is often drawn as light blue in color, and she always has a raindrop symbol drawn on her right cheek.

Mephibosheth
2006-08-11, 03:40 PM
Adaptation
The Callers of the Summer Rain is an organization specific to the Tears of Blood setting. *It is a cultural organization designed for a specific group of humans that are part of this setting. *However, the organization is easily adaptable to other settings.

The Callers of the Summer Rain fits very well within any agrarian civilization that relies on rains to maintain the quality of their farmland, especially if the civilization is located in an area marked with rainy and dry seasons or monsoon weather patterns. *It also works best when used with a culture that worships a pantheon of deities that includes a rain or weather deity, and that practices (or at least condones) animal sacrifice. *By simply replacing any reference to the Pahali culture or the region of Pahal, the Callers of the Summer Rain can be inserted into almost any pre-existing culture. *It might also be beneficial to replace the Shaagyaa cat with some other animal appropriate to the environment, and to change the names to fit within the cultural mold (because the Hindi-influenced names I've used wouldn't really be appropriate in a germanic culture).