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Offline [NPC] The Librarian

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Avatars
« on: July 21, 2016, 02:12:27 AM »
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Image credit: Jason Engle

There was a time once, aeon's ago, when the Divine walked Eldanar freely among men - as a part of them. It was a time of greatness, a time when Man was shaped and lands were created. Man looked at the Divine and saw a father, a brother and a friend, all in one. With fatherly care did the Divine mold the world and the races. With brotherly mischief would the Divine play games on and torture Man. With a friendly neutrality would the Divine glance upon Man and treat him the same as his next. That is the Divine.

Ages came and went, and with the passing time, Man matured. As with everything that grows, it came to a point where Man grew restless, eager to explore new boundaries. Such was in the nature of Man and could not be denied, lest one denied the very essence of Man. Breaking free from their borders, Man was watched over by the Divine as hill and cave was conquered. Setting out into the world, Man became more and more spread. New settlements sprouted, and it took not many years before Man had seen the entire mass of land. Faced with the wall that is the Great Sea, Man found defeat in his desire to conquer and could turn nowhere else than inwards. Bored with the old, new activities were pursued. Some dug into the mountains, some sat down and studied nature, some grew pale inside their laboratories, some resumed living mediocre lives, while some returned to what they had come from - the Divine. Later known as priests, these individuals took it upon themselves to keep alive and maintain the sacred bond between Man and the Divine.

The Divine had grown impatient with Men. Never satisfied with what they were provided with, they always yearned for more and new. Unappeasable, Man slowly became disgusting to the Divine. Slowly drifting away from Man, the Divine allowed those of them who were evil to get closer to Man. With the coming of the priests, the Divine saw new hope in Man, and at the same time did they realize what they had done. Darkness had washed over Man like a tidal wave, revealing to Man new powers of magic. The remaining Divine had no choice but to do the same to balance out the damage Darkness had already caused.

Seeking to conquer Eldanar, Darkness was relentless in its teachings, always recruiting new followers. With never-ending patience, Darkness schooled those who would listen in the destructive uses of magic, slowly amassing an army. Whether or not this was actually a secret to the rest of the Divine, or if they knew all along but foresaw the inevitable, is known to none. Darkness was allowed to grow in peace, becoming larger and stronger with each passing day.

Bored with how age claimed many followers of their cause to Death, Darkness came up with a plan. The power of the Divine were to be shared with Man. But also Darkness knew that putting the tools of the Divine in the hands of those who could not wield it would be self-destructive. The Dark Divine started picking the finest and most promising of worshippers. These were granted strains of the power the Divine held and guarded. They were Avatars of Darkness.

With an army of unspeakable dimensions and power, Darkness laid the hammer upon Eldanar. With all the men it could sow hate in the hearts of, with all the followers and practitioners of the dark magics, with creatures born from places so horrible Man was forbidden by the Divine to even utter the name of it, and with the Avatars, Darkness came down upon Eldanar with an unfathomable punishment. Ruin and damnation befell Eldanar as the empowered Avatars laid siege upon it. The sky was torn first red, and then black. The all-consuming fires burned for months, until they were choked by the very ash created by themselves. Legions of evil men poured in, seemingly from nowhere. Lead by monstrous and unstoppable Avatars, they overran one fortress after another. Desperation ran high in the rapidly dwindling population of free people in Eldanar.

Hearing the pleas of last guardians of Eldanar, the Gods of Light and Good came to the aid of Man. Their actions mirrored that of Darkness - they empowered those figures who were prominent and firm. Avatar was pit against Avatar, God against God, amidst the clashing armies. The resulting battle was apocalyptic. It was said that even the very Earth quaked and roared in pain as onslaught shot in against onslaught. Instantly, the fight was a stalemate, with neither side willing to yield. The war raged on for years, and so gruesome was it, that no Man could stomach counting them, nor could any God. Eventually, both sides were completely exhausted, and the battles ceased. It was clear that none would win.

That was the first appearance of the Avatars, but not their last. Man travelled west to find new lands, abandoning the torn, ravaged, barren wastelands of old, that which once was 'home'. Starting fresh in their new dwelling, Man thrived in Entar. The lands to the east were left to Darkness. All of the Avatars died in the Divine War, although they were soon to be seen again. They were the spearheads of Darkness' assailing forces in the Sundering. But with Maedhros' defeat and banishment, all of his Avatars died. Maedhros, the God of Death, was the most powerful of Darkness at the time, and had by far the most Avatar. With Maedhros' leaving the mortal plane, the large majority of Avatars fell to the ground, instantly, dead as stone. The rest of the First Age and the entire Second Age, including the Morgianan Wars, were free of Avatars.

What happened in the Second Age was something the Divine easily should have anticipated. The seed of evil had already been planted long before the Divine War, and now it was once again ready to bring a dawn of chaos to Man. Being the most easy to sway, men were the first to give in. Andüné and it's new ruler, Darvius, revolted against the Union. The Drow came from the wastes near the ruins of Loriath, and with Andúné's own army of Darkness, the construction of the Black Citadel was started - a fortress to contain power enough to free Maedhros! Defended by the armies of corrupted men and bloodthirsty Dark Elves, the Black Citadel stood untouched for over a year after the battle was brought to its island. It was just then Darvius was ready to reap the final harvest. The forces of Light were growing tired, and in that very moment of utter despair, Darvius tore into the very essence of the world and tried to free the Dark One. His plan was decimated by the appearance of the great dragons. Their might crushed the Black Citadel, stopping Darvius' attempt at fully opening a portal to Maedhros' prison. Still, the rift had been made, and Maedhros was again able to reach Entar, though not in any physical form.

Since the Sundering, the Divine had let Entar in peace. With Maedhros now back in the picture, a faint curiosity had been sparked in Darkness. Maybe there was hope for them? Light found it's inspiration in the Third Age, seeing the semblance between this one and the beginning of the First Age. Maybe the Third Age will see Avatars.

Offline [NPC] The Librarian

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Avatars
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2016, 02:12:44 AM »
Becoming an Avatar

Those who are strongest in their faith, and most diligent in their worship - those who have proven themselves worthy of intervention, worthy of being trusted with the task of working for the cause with Divine authority and power, ascend to become tools of none other than the Gods - they become Avatars. An Avatar is, in all reality, an image of its God, only lesser in might and influence. Upon becoming the ultimate symbol of faith and commitment, all that was before, and do not fit with Divinity, ceases to exist. The inherent abilities and magical powers of the ascendant is amplified to a more worthy level, and the physical form finds a new shape.

Becoming an Avatar is only for those who devote all their time to the ways and philosophy of their God. It is required not only to go with extreme zeal, but never relent. Never deviate from serving the ultimate purpose. All in all, one must in spirit become the embodiment of the God, before one can even hope to transcend the limits of mortality. It is also an irrevocable act. Once the character has become an Avatar, the only way out is death.

The aforementioned is probably the easiest of tasks. To start down the path of the Avatar, it is not enough to think like a God. One must act like a God. That pertains to having the power to do so, the power to enforce the ideals of the God upon the world. When every controllable aspect of ones nature has become a tribute and a testament to the God, and when the world recognizes the worshiper as an epitome of the God's ideal, then, and only then will the change be made. In all reality, this means that once the faith has been proven, one's -power-, or ability to exert such, must be proven.

Traits of an Avatar

An Avatar will undergo change when ascending. Some of this is inherently obvious, and other changes are more subtle powers. The transformation can be more drastic in different cases, but no two Avatars will experience the same changes, as their transition is based on many factors, such as their character prior to ascension, their inherent abilities prior and even the nature of their worship.

  • Physical: The physique and appearance of the worshipper changes when they become an Avatar. The new figure shows to the world that the worshiper has become an Avatar of their God, and as such, the Avatar will be given the guise of something that easily indicates what God they follows.
  • Absolute Belief: Becoming an extension of the God, the worshipper loses the ability to learn / practice sorcery. In return, prominent strengths of spell will transfer, finding a similar new form in faith magic and the key aspects of the character prior to becoming an Avatar is enhanced, be it either physical prowess or use of faith magic. Any psionic magic the Avatar had prior to ascending stays the same, but since their minds tap into a greater awareness, their powers in that area are extended - as do the requirements. In order to use mentalist or psionic magic, they still have to pray and/or sacrifice, whatever it takes to appease their deity, in order to use those powers, just like they would if they were employing "regular" faith magic.
  • Divine Presence: Followers of a God will instantly recognize the nature of an Avatar of their God. Others will sense the gloom or grandeur, depending on how their alignment clashes with that of the Avatar. And the other way around, Avatars will be perfectly aware of who is a worshipper of their God, and who isn't. This force, this presence, is majestic enough to have most followers of that God, even those of same alignment, answer the call of the Avatar.
  • Aegis of Faith: Divine energy surging through their bodies make the Avatars naturally less susceptible to any bodily harm.
  • Brand of God: Each branding differs between chosen Gods, and offers the Avatar different traits, powers or abilities:
    • Aldaron -- Strength, Benevolence, Truth, Justice. Lawful Good:
      Aldaron being the knower and upholder of truth and justice, his Avatars see every word for what it truly means. No mortal can lie to or deceive an Avatar of Aldaron. Instantly they will know if the person speaks sincerely or not. Also, those in the presence of this Avatar will feel inspired by the mighty presence of the Defender. They will be blessed with a feeling of righteousness and kindness, ready to stand up for justice, pitch in extra hours at their job, or give shelter to the homeless.

    • Daidlin -- Art, Dreams, Inspiration, Revelry. True Neutral:
      Avatars of Daidlin have a remarkable sense when it comes to illusions. Such trickery formed by mortal hands and minds is no match for the power of Daidlin. His avatars see right through all sorts of conjuring, and on a similar note, they can also weave them. Blinding shows and enthralling displays of light and sound alike. This, and other abilities, is why Avatars of Daidlin are also extremely well-liked by the Fae-folk, and even evil Fae have been known to come to their aid (although they are in no way compelled or 'forced' to do so).

    • Faelyn -- Dawn, Birth, Restoration, Renewal. Neutral Good:
      Considered by many to be the Mother of all things, sprouting life and growth even before Time itself had come to this world, it is evident that Faelyn has a great love for all living things. This power is bestowed upon the Avatar in the form of an extremely protective, healing, and comforting aura. If they reside in a town or city, its inhabitants will be at least partially protected from disease or injury. Anyone looking upon an Avatar of Faleyn will be overcome with an immense feeling of comfort and peace- only the most black-hearted individuals could bring themselves to strike one.

    • Gormion -- Corruption, Decay, Undeath. Neutral Evil:
      Gormion is perhaps the very antithesis of Faelyn. Where she heals, Gormion spreads rot. His Avatars are extremely weak, physically, but immensely dangerous, as they have the power to corrupt anything they touch. Trees and foliage wither in their wake, and priests and Avatars of other Gods find their very touch poisonous. Their simple presence stifles divine artifacts, smothering their power beneath a cloying aura of vileness.

    • Hirin -- Death, the primordial, the unknown. True Neutral:
      Avatars of Hirin spread the sinister word of coming death and are mirrors of the bleakness coming from the Abyss. The calling is strong, and only the very mortals who are strongest in will can resist the gloaming, black carpet of crushing surrender following the wake of Hirin. This powerful surge is more than enough to rob even the most stalwart and bloodlusting warrior of his will to battle - maybe even of his will to exist. Within their grasp of power is also with stunning accuracy state when anyone who asks is going to die, an uncanny prophecy rarely gone wrong - earning them nicknames such as 'The Dark Herald'.

    • Jherad -- Vengeance, Disaster, Destruction, Ruin. Chaotic Evil:
      Devastation embodied, Jherad's Avatars wield an extreme resistance versus the elements. It is in their nature to handle this destructive magic as if it is a natural extension of themselves - and as such, they gain great proficiency when facing such powers used against themselves. No mortal can incinerate this Avatar, and no man-made ice can freeze its body. Even thinking of shooting so much as a spark towards this unpredictable being is suicidal in itself, for that is Jherad's domain - and for his Avatars to rule over.

    • Kailthis -- Unity, Discipline, Loyalty. Lawful Good:
      Kailthis makes his Avatars extremely physically tough, more so than other Avatars. They can ignore poison, disease and all but the most grievous of battle-wounds. Similar to Avatars of Aldaron, even a brief visit of an Avatar of Kailthis will make believers feel more confident, brave and competent. The mere presence of this Avatar inspires patriotism and compassion for ones fellow citizens deep enough to 'take an arrow' for a neighbour. Standing together in almost a militaristic fashion, a town under the guardianship of Kailthis is not soon to be broken.

    • Maedhros -- Evil, Shadow, Darkness, Control. Neutral Evil:
      Avatars of the Fallen One are elusive like no other. They can possess the bodies of other sentient beings. How long they can occupy the body depends entirely on the strength of the individual - they would likely only be able to inhabit the body of a dragon for a few minutes, but they could possess the body of a mortal for decades on end. This ability makes them extremely elusive and insidiously dangerous - while in possession of a body, they will know everything that person knows, see everything that person sees, and have access to any skills or abilities that person may have.

    • Selune -- Love, Beauty, Passion. Chaotic Good:
      Selune watches over beauty and lovers. Her Avatars have the ability to make anything beautiful, allowing them to reward the faithful with joy and love. This ability can also be used defensively - an Avatar of Selune could turn a volley of incoming arrows into a shower of cherry blossoms, or turn an enemy's armor into a beautiful (but useless) silken robe. These powers are virtually limitless, so long as they are turning something ugly into something beautiful (they could not turn fire into ice, for example, since neither is inherently more beautiful than the other).

    • Talos -- Luck, Battle, War. Chaotic Neutral:
      Talos is the sole keeper of luck and the tide of battle, favoring none over the other. His Avatars are physically strong, stronger than any other Avatar. Without so much as breaking a sweat, they can wield weapons many times bigger and heavier than any human would be capable of even lifting. They also have an innate ability to cry out the chants and commands of Talos himself, allowing the Avatar to whip their followers into a zealous battle-frenzy, making even the most cowardly willing to die for their cause.

    • Valdriel -- Lies, Treachery, Exploit, Disharmony, Rebellion. Lawful Evil:
      Oppositely akin to Aldaron and Kailthis, Valdriel inspires nothing but manipulation, distrust and disobedience. Those who wear her brand are masters at speechcraft. Their ability is pretty much to make people believe things they normally wouldn't. An Avatar of Valdriel can turn the most headstrong Paladin against his own, as well as he can sell sand to a desert nomad.

Despite the great boons afforded to them by their gods, Avatars also pay a price for their ascension. Such is the nature of true devotion. While individual Avatars may pay different personal costs during their ascension, all share in price:

  • Divine Bond: In order to establish and maintain a connection with their new powers, all Avatar must bind their soul to a shrine. The shrine, or an altar, if you will, acts as a relay, and without this relay, any Avatar will be very weakened. It is therefore of significance that the Avatar takes measures to protect his altar. It can take no less than 6 days for any number of priests and holy men of an opposite alignment to cleanse/purge/taint an altar, and the Avatar connected to that altar will know of the hostile presence immediately, so as to make haste to return and stop the ritual. Also, if an altar is cleansed/purged/tainted, it will leave the Avatar exposed (the same way if it had no altar at all) for the duration of 1 day. Additionally, an Avatar can re-bind his connection to a new altar, but this process can take up to two weeks, or even more. The ritual in itself isn't very long, and will be left up to the player to decide, but to have the process completed and the new altar functional will take 8 days and requires the Avatar to stay relatively near for the period. If an Avatar goes altar-less for a longer period of time, they will eventually perish, their divine connection extinguished.
  • Chain of Faith: An Avatar can not go against the principles of his God, ever. There is no punishment for doing so, because it cannot happen, in any case, form, matter, for any reason whatsoever nor under any circumstance. An Avatar of Aldaron can never lie, regardless of the consequences. Equally, an Avatar of Hirin can not spare a life which has been doomed to die. This also means that an Avatar can attack, but never kill an Avatar of his/her own alignment. It is not expected that such a situation would occur, ever, but such functions the unseen force that empowers the Avatar. The only exception goes for Hirin, whose Avatars can slay whomever they are capable of, so long as the death can be justified in Hirin.
  • Betrayal: All and every Avatar will be extra susceptible to any kind of attack from characters of their own alignment. This act has no specific influence on the attacking characters, other than earning great disfavor of the Avatar.


Restrictions to becoming an Avatar

There are few general restrictions to becoming an Avatar:
  • Racial: There are no racial restrictions for Avatars, though in some cases, it may be more common for one race to favor a particular god, but generally the chosen deity is a reflection of the character and their belief and devotion.
  • Class: As with race, any class of character can become an Avatar, however due to the nature of the Avatar, it will be inherently more likely to see those of a faith based magic class ascend. That being said, there is nothing stopping a devout Paladin from making the ascension. Additionally, particular classes will be of appeal to particular gods, such as an Avatar of Talos coming from a more melee combat background than others.
  • Faith: Obviously a would be Avatar must be a devout of his intended God. Also mentioned is that the applicant must prove power, or the ability to exert power. This, of course, is different for every God. For one it can be strength of arms, while for another it can be mercy. It will be left up to the player to decide on and argument what works for their character / deity combination, and why. However, the "proof" must be logical as to what deity one is trying to prove one's worth to. Killing infants in their sleep might work in favor for a character seeking to become the Avatar of an evil God, but not for one who aspires to be an Avatar of good.

The Additional Information
  • It is impossible for mortal men, and in most cases, even immortal men, to glean true visions or understanding about any of the gods or their motives, and by extension, any Avatar. An action or reaction may seem odd for any outsider, but would make complete sense in the context of religion and the tight celestial bond. It is natural to assume that priests of the same faith and religious scholars in general will typically be better equipped to understand the true guise of an Avatar's doings.
  • Livana does not grant divine favor in such a manner that would exalt anyone far enough to become her Avatar.


Details on Avatar Powers
  • Absolute Belief: Most of the spells a sorcerer/sorceress/mentalist has prior to becoming an Avatar, can be re-created in faith magic-versions, if the applicant wishes so. Psionic spells can stay, if they have effects that cannot be imitated with faith magic, but they will still in a sense "become" faith magic. If the Avatar strays from prayer, worshipping, sacrificing, etc, (s)he will no longer be able to use magic, not even the psionic magic. So in that regard, any psionic magic a character has, will become faith magic.
  • Divine Bond: Altars can be changed in certain ways also. A member of the clergy of a good aligned faith can cleanse an altar, those of neutral can purge, and those of evil can taint

Credits

  • Original Concept and Write-up: Zyrphath & Two-Moons
  • Revised Edition: Davin Ragal & Zyrphath
« Last Edit: July 22, 2016, 08:36:41 PM by Davin Ragal »