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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

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    Default My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Part of my ongoing series on the mythology of my world, where my goal was to take "classic" D&D gods and remake them into more complete religious ideologies people might actually want to worship. (See Wee Jas, Olidammara, Erythnul, Hextor, Corellon Larethian, Lolth, The Deep Ones)

    Also, intended to be readable in any order, and for it to be easy to transplant individual parts into other settings.

    Nerull, the Reaper

    "Do you see this man? Is he not beautiful? Look, he does not suffer or cry. Free from worry, exhaustion, and pain, he can rest forever. Do not be afraid, he only seeks to help you to join him."
    - Oratell the Unsparing, referring to one of his zombie minions.

    "Death is salvation. Sleep now, child, and be done with your troubles."
    - Nerull, from the epic poem "Estherian Odyssey"

    Expanded Domains: Cold, Death, Deathbound, Decay, Entropy, Envy, Evil, Mysticism, Necromancy, Pestilence, Repose, Shadow, Trickery, Undeath, Winter
    Portfolio: Death, The Dead, Despair, Entropy, Executioners, Gloom, Moirologists, Mourning, Negative Energy, Numbness, Poppies, Repose, Separations, Sympathy, Winter
    Theme: https://listenonrepeat.com/?v=fDNMrc...with_Lyrics%29

    Knowledge (Religion) DC 10:
    Nerull is the sorrowful god of death. He is quite possibly the oldest deity, older than life itself. Indeed, it is said that it was Nerull's scythe that first separated life from death, and that it is his scythe that will reunite all life with death.

    When Nerull separated life from death, he soon regretted his decision. In waking the world, he exposed it to suffering and misery, and such is Nerull's empathy that he feels all of it. Tortured by his terrible error, Nerull resolved to tirelessly work to end every life. And so it is that all meet Nerull's embrace, in time.

    Nerull was once the husband of Jehenna, but they turned against each other when he began his quest to undo this cosmic era. He is the father of Heironeous and Hextor. After every harvest season, Nerull slays Obad-Hai and hangs his body from the Summer Tree, ushering in the winter. At every winter solstice, Wee Jas sneaks off with Obad-Hai's body to use it to plant a new Green Man somewhere, which blooms into the new Obad-Hai to usher in the Spring.

    In art, Nerull is depicted as an ancient (sometimes skeletal) hooded figure carrying a scythe, or items symbolic of whatever has brought the most death to the type of person he's after in the context of the depiction (such as a noose and headsman's axe representing punishment of the guilty, or a blighted wheat stalk representing famine).

    When numbness overtakes pain, it is said that Nerull's touch has severed your senses.

    Knowledge (Religion) DC 15:
    Nerull's philosophy states that life is suffering, and death is a mercy. Predictably, that means that many interpretations of Nerull's philosophy are outlawed in most societies. Those churches openly faithful to Nerull, then, do not emphasize indiscriminate murder or suicide. Instead, the publicly acceptable priesthood includes things like moirologists (professional mourners), gravekeepers, funeral homes... as well as things like herbalists producing painkillers (usually opiates, as the poppy is seen as sacred) or houses for the terminally ill that aim to make the end of their lives as painless and comfortable as possible.

    The philosophy amongst the less extreme followers of Nerull is that death is inevitable, and that it is not their place to end your life (such is in the hands of the divine, or at the very least a person's own choice to make). Instead, they seek to make life as free of undue pain and suffering as possible, as well as to protect the interests of the dead. After all, to a follower of Nerull, death is only the beginning, and the dead truly are in a better place. It follows, then, that graves must be protected and ghosts should be put to rest. Clerics of Nerull are often valued as exorcists, since their sacred graveyards rarely result in angry undead terrorizing the living (otherwise an all-too-common problem). Still, churches of Nerull are often feared or persecuted, suspected (only occasionally rightly) of supporting everything from euthanasia to indiscriminate murderers like the infamous necromancer Oratell the Unsparing.

    The first time Nerull killed Obad-Hai, it brought about the Age of Winter, a cruel ice age which brought ruin to the First Civilizations. The gods scrambled to find a solution, eventually empowering Wee Jas as psychopomp. It was she who grew a new Obad-Hai, ending the Age of Winter. When Nerull turned his scythe upon Wee Jas in retribution, he found that she could not be killed, for she had hidden her heart away in a place even the gods could not find, and would be reborn again and again. Nerull searches for the phylactery of Wee Jas, the First Lich, to this very day.

    Knowledge (Religion) DC 20:
    Amongst some more extreme sects of Nerull, life is a cruel abomination which cannot be tolerated, and it is any good man's duty to wipe it out as thoroughly as possible. To Nerull, intelligent undeath is better than life, unintelligent undeath is better than intelligent undeath, and death is best of all. Despite this, they say, it is virtuous to stay alive just long enough to bring as many with you into death as possible. Such individuals are viewed as self-sacrificing, prolonging their own suffering in order to shorten the suffering of others. To them, it is faithlessness, ignorance, or lies that compels others to fear death -- ignorance trapping men in a hell of their own design.

    Even though murder is acceptable to (and even exalted by) such sects, inflicting undue pain most definitely isn't. Torture is almost unheard of amongst even the most violent cults of Nerull, and pain is at most viewed as a necessary evil. Indeed, assassin cults of Nerull are renowned for mastering the art of the painless death.

    More peaceful followers of Nerull would generally disagree with the philosophies of such sects, dismissing them as misguided zealots that don't really represent their religion of (resting in) peace. Some scholars argue that there is a reason that Nerull separated life and death in the first place (though they can't seem to agree on any one theory for what that reason was, each school of thought advocating their own perspectives), and thus that each life has value, even if it is filled with suffering and misery. We have our allotted time, limited by the Reaper's mercy, and we have a duty to make the best of it lest the tragedies of life be all for naught. In other words, we have a duty to make the best of a bad situation, so that when Nerull reunites life with death at least something will have been accomplished in this tragic celestial era. It would be taking advantage of his kindness to avoid our duty by skipping out on those trials altogether. After all, they say, "the wheat must grow before the harvest."

    Other theologians (generally either the "extremists" or those critical of faith in Nerull) would claim that such beliefs have scant basis in the classical religious canons, and that suicide pacts or murder cults represent a truer faith in Nerull.

    Nerullan funerals tend to embalm their dead and bury them in sealed caskets, tombs, or necropolises, and their graveyards are often lovingly maintained. By contrast, Jasite funerals traditionally sprinkle seeds over corpses and bury them in soil marked by cairns or memorial decorations, or in catacomb mazes with earthen walls that wind beneath farms and fields. Some Jasite sects prefer to use necromancy to create unintelligent undead so that a body is not wasted even after death. Peloran funerals prefer cremation. Moradin likes to immortalize heroes with architecture, statues, or funerary monuments, while Corellon likes to immortalize heroes in art and song. Gruumsh is generally honored by sky burials or other forms of excarnation (there is a great variety of traditions between tribes and cults). Olidammara likes toasts and potlatches funded from the remains of the deceased's wealth, and encourages people to give away all their wealth after death so that they'll treat your memory right (otherwise, what would your money be doing for you? Nothing! Gotta think of the self-interest!). Vecna thinks death is for scrubs, and you should definitely take any possible measures to keep yourself in the game or at least preserve the corpse for possible resurrection or something.

    Knowledge (Religion) DC 25:
    Nerull's tragic depth of empathy stems from the fact that he remembers when all things were one thing, and so experiences all pain as his pain. It was Nerull that created the current celestial era by creating disparity. It was his scythe that split light from dark, warmth from chill, earth from air, life from death, and indeed broke all things in the universe into parts that could be reconstructed into something new. As the cosmos coalesced into new forms, so awakened the greater deities... Gruumsh, Corellon Larethian, and Moradin. Their hands shaped the stars and planes. Then came people, and with people came deities like Lolth and Sehanine Moonbow to weave dreams and destinies for them.

    In old tales of the Age of Winter, Nerull is represented as a seemingly invincible foe who could not be destroyed even by the combined might of the other gods, for Death was his weapon, and could not be turned against him.

    Organization: The Knights of the Merciful Scythe

    "Even the dead need champions."
    - Lareda Loveliss, Knight of the Merciful Scythe

    The Knights of the Merciful Scythe are an elite organization of ghost hunters, specializing in helping the restless dead to rest in peace. Their exorcists may find themselves tasked with cleansing ancient tombs, desecrated burial grounds, haunted mansions, or blood-stained battlefields. They are not merely warriors, but also specialized detectives, adept at discovering the reasons for a spirit's unrest and resolving the root cause rather than simply burning away the zombies.

    Though they usually take payment from the living, the Knights' first loyalty is to the needs of the dead, for it is to the dead that a Knight of the Merciful Scythe swears her oath of allegiance. This sometimes brings them into conflict with the living, whose injustices are often the cause for an angry spirit, which cannot rest until the injustice is rectified.

    They also take contracts such as enforcing wills or tracking down tomb raiders.

    Organization: Misericorde


    Misericorde (named after the kind of dagger used for mercy strokes and euthanasia) is a Nerullan terrorist cult that opposes the use of resurrection and other life-extending magics. Their infamous acts include catastrophically sabotaging the diamond trade, massacring hospices full of terminal patients, and destroying groundbreaking research into restorative magics.

    At least as infamous as their public acts of mayhem is one of Misericorde's main sources of funding: The organization boasts some of the foremost experts in silent, painless, and most of all permanent deaths. Misericorde has few scruples about selling the skills of elite assassins specializing in the execution of high profile targets—and keeping them dead—to the highest bidder. After all, in the eyes of Misericorde, all who seek to evade the reaper are guilty. This lucrative service also means that the organization attracts some members who are simply interested in a career as hitmen rather than true Nerullan faithful.

    Some rumors even say that the Maruts are the inventions of Misericorde artificers, but this is often dismissed as an urban legend. Surely the organization's history doesn't go back that far... does it?

    Code of Conduct: Paladins of Nerull

    This code of conduct applies to those who would call themselves paladins of the faith, not just any follower of Nerull.

    - Do not torture. This applies to physical and mental abuse of both the living and the undead.

    - If you harm or kill, take reasonable measures to make it as painless as possible. Do not cause pain without reason. Take action to prevent pain to others, including your enemies.

    - Treat the dead with respect. At least as much respect as you would the living. Note that this does not preclude necromancy.

    - Do not encourage resurrection. This doesn't mean that you're not allowed to be resurrected or that you must prevent others from being resurrected, but you shouldn't pressure people to come back into the living world with all its suffering. That self-sacrifice is for the person to make for themselves.

    - Do not deny a person their right to die.

    - When you die (if you're not going to come back as an undead or something), your corpse should be disposed of in such a way that it can't easily become new life. That means things like embalming, sealed caskets, tombs, or just throwing yourself into a sphere of annihilation or something. Don't make your body convenient for Wee Jas to re-purpose into something new if you can help it. Exit the cycle of reincarnation. Weaken the Chain that binds us to this world so that another, greater one may take its place.

    - Do not bring new life into this world of suffering. Paladins of Nerull may not sire or bear children. Depending on who you ask, it may be okay if you had a kid before you took your paladin oaths, but you definitely can't have one after.
    Last edited by LudicSavant; 2016-11-08 at 05:58 AM. Reason: Formatting tweaks

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Jendekit's Avatar

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    ...

    more...MORE!

    What edition is this designed for, and can I use it?
    Come check out my setting blog: Ruins of the Forbidden Elder

    Inspired by LudicSavant, I am posting deities: Erebos, The Black Sun

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    I am probably stealing this at some point as well. It should work for a 5e home brewed setting, I would think.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Quote Originally Posted by Jendekit View Post
    ...

    more...MORE!

    What edition is this designed for, and can I use it?
    It was designed for a 3.5e campaign, but since it's primarily fluff it shouldn't be too difficult to adapt to other systems. Feel free to use ideas from here for your own campaigns.

    As for more, this is part of a larger setting I've been fiddling with where I have essentially overhauled much of the "classic" D&D pantheon to be something completely different. I currently have material for 20 deities, including extras such as organizations and paladin codes. If there's interest I'll post them.

    My goal for re-imagining the deities was to make every god something that people might actually want to worship, each with their own philosophies. Every god is both hero and villain... depending on who you ask. I also hoped to up the depth and anthropological verisimilitude a bit.

    Feedback would of course be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by LudicSavant; 2015-09-23 at 03:59 PM.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    raygun goth's Avatar

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    These are really great and I am very excited to see them finally go up. Can't wait to see the really good stuff - Wee Jas in particular!
    "Scary magical hoodoo and technology are the same thing, their difference is merely cultural context" - Clarke, paraphrased

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    I love this. Very cool worldbuilding.
    Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
    - G. K. Chesterton

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    Are you some sort of Wizard?
    This is Æl-Ceald, an ice-age fantasy campaign setting. Updated!

    Avatar by gurgleflep!

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    With misericorde, there should be a thing about them being contract executioners.

    Like, villain has captured PC, and is now dragging them to some random old farmstead where they have arranged for a rendezvous with the misericorde. PCs have to track them down and rescue them before midnight because that's when misericode will be scheduled to perform ritual execution from which no ghost or resurrectable soul remains. Villain's comrades are all super uncertain about dealing with misericode but he is officially taking ZERO chances with PCs.

    Also if PC is rescued? Misericode are like "Our master was promised a life tonight" And villain is like "Um um yeah don't worry we'll track them down super soon you can trust-" "Our master was promised a life tonight." Villain comrade: "boss what are we gonna do wait why are you looking at me like that"

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Although I like the idea, especially for a lower level adventure (perhaps a good way to introduce the players to the faith of Nerull), would you consider this as potentially taking control away from the players? Or is the fact that they were smart enough and skilled/lucky enough to get away and have the villain's plan blow up in their face good enough for a low level adventure?

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagda Mor View Post
    With misericorde, there should be a thing about them being contract executioners.

    Like, villain has captured PC, and is now dragging them to some random old farmstead where they have arranged for a rendezvous with the misericorde. PCs have to track them down and rescue them before midnight because that's when misericode will be scheduled to perform ritual execution from which no ghost or resurrectable soul remains. Villain's comrades are all super uncertain about dealing with misericode but he is officially taking ZERO chances with PCs.

    Also if PC is rescued? Misericode are like "Our master was promised a life tonight" And villain is like "Um um yeah don't worry we'll track them down super soon you can trust-" "Our master was promised a life tonight." Villain comrade: "boss what are we gonna do wait why are you looking at me like that"
    Awesome, I can totally see that. I imagine that the ability to prevent resurrection would be just as good for executions as for assassins.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mith View Post
    Although I like the idea, especially for a lower level adventure (perhaps a good way to introduce the players to the faith of Nerull), would you consider this as potentially taking control away from the players? Or is the fact that they were smart enough and skilled/lucky enough to get away and have the villain's plan blow up in their face good enough for a low level adventure?
    I don't think the villain would have much call to hire executioners whose job is to prevent the use of resurrection magic if it's a low level adventure.

    Oh, while we're speaking of preventing resurrections, here's an old thread on various ways to do that in 3.5e:

    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...e-other-guy%29

    I can think of a few other ways too, such as the Keeper's Fang enchantment in the ECS (pg 266, striking the killing blow with a Keeper's Fang weapon prevents the use of any resurrection, reincarnate, or "similar effects." They're also prohibitively expensive, but that's all the more reason for only a few people out there to have access to the things).

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    I was thinking low level because to me the "run away like the Grim Reaper is chasing you" (literally in this case), is something I have found more common in lower level adventures.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagda Mor
    Also if PC is rescued? Misericode are like "Our master was promised a life tonight" And villain is like "Um um yeah don't worry we'll track them down super soon you can trust-" "Our master was promised a life tonight." Villain comrade: "boss what are we gonna do wait why are you looking at me like that"
    Why am I imagining Facilier's fate from Princess and the Frog now? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTqHbiE0vl8

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Just updated the OP for this thread (and all of my other pantheon threads) to link to all of the other pantheon threads in an up-to-date fashion. Also, Corellon Larethian is up.

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    Post Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Some of the followers seem sympathetic.

    Nerull himself comes across as something of a self-centered cosmic nihilist who would deny any of the good that comes with the suffering in life, and would refuse to allow any living thing to decide for themselves if good is worth the suffering.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    The way I see it, Nerull has hit the point where the only thing he can feel is the pain of others. It's a bit like Rastlin's curse in that he only sees the decay of the passage of time. The moderates of his followers redirect this to ensuring that life is enjoyable and that those that are suffering from conditions with no cure are relieved of their suffering.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Many hold that Nerull killing everything wouldn't necessarily mean oblivion so much as opening the way for the creation of a new cosmic era, and thus a new way of being. For Nerull to try again he must first clear the field.

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    Question Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    Many Nerullan perspectives hold that Nerull killing everything wouldn't necessarily mean oblivion so much as opening the way for the creation of a new cosmic era, and thus a new way of being. For Nerull to try again he must first clear the field.
    Do they mean "not oblivion for the universe" or "not oblivion for those who currently exist"?

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Do they mean "not oblivion for the universe" or "not oblivion for those who currently exist"?
    Probably depends who you ask.

    Some would say that your individual consciousness will indeed come to an end and you will rest in peace, and that we have to come to terms with that. Some will point to the notion that all is one and one is all, and that any new universe would be formed from this one, and thus surely we would be a part of it. Some will emphasize that reuniting life with death doesn't mean "everything is dead" anymore than it would mean "everything is alive," and that both will become one, as it was in the past celestial era. Some might say that it is futile to pretend to understand, let alone convey, what another celestial era (past or future) could be like experientially, simply because the world is so far beyond our experience. "Try imagining a world before Nerull created disparity, for instance."

    Anyways, I think you might like what I have in mind for Kord. He makes the argument that pain is a feature, not a glitch.

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    Default Re: My pantheon's take on Nerull

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    I currently have material for 20 deities, including extras such as organizations and paladin codes. If there's interest I'll post them.
    THERE'S A LOT OF INTEREST. Please post if you are able!

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    Feedback would of course be greatly appreciated.
    This is fantastic. The old Greyhawk deities always felt "stock" to me, but you've really made them great. Thanks!

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