Monday, September 24, 2018

What is that Heinous Idol for?

Mayan Cthulhu Totem by FoxH

The Pem-Pah people of Khaitam-po are positive dystheists who worship against a vast pantheon of malicious spirits which run amok across the world. In addition to offering prayers to confuse and confound the oftentimes nameless evils, they craft idols embodying them and their abstract, harmful concepts. These idols are then damaged and defaced over time to harm and weaken the concept embodied within it. This is believed to weaken the evil's power over the world by extension, offering temporary reprieve from it.

Normally they are located securely within village sanctuaries or pious, well-to-do households, but occasionally misfortune can land an idol in the wild, able to be found and picked up by passersby.

Perhaps they don't even stay in the right world for long.

Very rarely does an evil have an anthropomorphic identity. More commonly, they are identified by what they do or cause in the world. They are almost never named, especially not on their idols, even if such a label would be very useful helping the uninitiated in identifying just what a given mass of deliberately hideous carved wood and stone is supposed to represent.

Because of the nonstandard, highly individual way in which the idols are crafted, identifying a given idol can be relatively straightforward, or exceptionally difficult. Gut feelings, hunches, and intuition can lead to just as accurate an answer as a guess born of lifelong arcane study, so any member of a group of adventurers which might encounter an idol should have an equally unlikely shot at identifying it, regardless of skill training or ability score.

Special rituals appropriate to each evil are used to further debilitate them, either in the face of terrible fortune related to the evil, or in the hopes of improving one's circumstances further. In essence, cowing and tormenting an embodied evil "blesses" certain endeavors by removing a bit more of their eldritch taint from the area. This can translate to a small (+1 or +2) bonus on appropriate rolls for a period of time.

It is imperative that an idol never, ever be the subject of a ritual meant for an evil which is conceptually opposed to it. Nor should it ever be deliberately, completely destroyed. Doing so would empower or even release the evil essence embodied within it, and their mindless gaze rarely travels much farther than those who have released the evil. Such a mistake could result in penalties to relevant rolls as high as -5 or -10, or lead to disastrous events to be determined by the referee.

A set of example Pem-Pah Idols, their areas of affliction, and the rituals meant to deal with them, can be found below:

Pem-Pah Idols
Name of the Embodied Evil
What the Evil does
What You should do


The Lapping of Fire
Causes the start and spread of errant fires, which burn and consume indiscriminately.
Wrap it in scrolls of birch bark or paper. Ignite a fuse of human hair. Douse it in water before it catches fire.


The Bloody Lungs of Saltwater
Capsizes rafts and sailing vessels far from shore, destroying goods and drowning sailors.
Leech the moisture from it by hanging it over a fire. Bind it to a bowl floating in a tub of water.


An Unhealing Wound
Prevents fresh injuries from healing properly, or causes older wounds to open up and fester anew.
Cut a gash across the idol and immediately “cauterize” it with fire. Then pack the cut with gauze or bandage.


It Which Deceives
Fosters resentment among allies and tempts strangers and new faces to betray one another.
Place the idol in front of a small mirror facing its own reflection.


The Creeping and Slithering
Sneaks rare and deadly reptiles or other marshland creatures into places they don't belong.
Place it before a brazier in which a handful of reptile scales are burned.


Grinding Iron and Snapping Steel
Breaks or degrades metal of all types with use, not least of which being weapons and tools.
Ritually sharpen a blade under the idol's gaze, then us it to mar it.


The Thirst of Drought
Stagnates and spoils collected drinking water, causes local crop failure.
Plant it in soil and “water” it with sweat or saliva.


Howling from the Dark
Sends large, predatory animals to hunt far beyond their normal ranges.
Fix a collar around the idol's “neck” and shower it in tooth fragments or fingernail clippings.


Foolish Gibbering
Increases the likelihood that a person will announce themselves with a blunder, or be obliviously talkative.
Adhere a strip of material around the idol's approximation of mouth to gag it.


The Writhing Within
Unbalances one's gut fauna or compromises immune systems until the body is prone to diseases and massive parasites.
Bore a hole through the idol if one does not already exist, then flush it out with milk and animal blood.


Emptiness of the Gyre
Instills constant, gnawing hunger despite any and all food eaten, causing crippling starvation as well as gluttonous bloating.
Burn offerings composed of, or made to resemble, a healthily balanced meal.


Flesh's Fancy
Seeds the subconscious with growing carnal urges which a person would normally be averse to.
Seal the idol in a case full of purported anaphrodisiacs (real or otherwise) and lay it on its head.


The Lying Light
Conjures up deceptive lights and other mirages in far-off places to lead travelers astray.
Blindfold what passes for the idol's eyes using sap as an adhesive.


Luck's Blind Vexations
Influences mundane, day-to-day events to appear highly unlucky when it comes to random chance.
Nail a set of loaded dice or similar crooked game pieces to the face of the idol.

That Which Scrapes at the Dividing Wall
Provokes extreme paranoia and auditory hallucinations, eventually causes insomnia.
Bore a pair of “ear” holes into the idol and fill them with cork.

Lonesome Cries as if from Orphans
Inspires alternating periods of melancholy and gut-wrenching episodes of loss and grief.
Fashion a set of wax figures resembling a family unit and then melt them together to coat the idol.


The Crawling Fingers of Multitudes
Manipulates and harasses loose objects in a wide area, as well as causes pinching, grabbing, or crawling sensations across the skin of everyone therein.
Bind the idol in cord tightly, going counter-clockwise from the front. Then wind a differently colored cord opposite.


The Consuming Cold
Hampers sources of heat, including living bodies, and promotes unseasonable frosts.
Bundle the idol in a fur-trimmed blanket while ladling boiling hot broth over its face.


Wisps of the Tides
Summons up motes of the Killing Tides' suffocating embrace, starving the area of oxygen or fostering respiratory disorders.
Fan the idol vigorously while burning pungent incense around it.


Death-Rattle's Spite
Empowers the destructive, vengeful aspects of a dying wish or curse spoken by the dying.
Bury the idol in a symbolic grave with full honors and an accompanying song of soothing platitudes.

No comments:

Post a Comment