Gods of Cobrin’Seil: Faces Of War

I spoke earlier in the year about ways to view gods in Cobrin’Seil, and the story mechanisms I used to consider them. I said, at the time, that I wasn’t planning on talking more about the gods in my setting, unless there was interest. Then there was interest.

This involved digging up the text I had on these gods – the historical information for comparison. Obviously, looking back on your old writing is going to come with some problems. In this case, some of it just basic assumptions, some if it is awkward phrasing, some of it is indelicate language, and uh,

also,

I cut a title from this text for Adeblen. The original title was unremarkably edgy, and I would normally leave it in, but it uses a Content Warningy word, and there’s nothing really, like… related to it. I would normally leave the text as is and use it as a teaching moment? But like: Don’t give characters titles that include words you’re not comfortable saying at the gaming table any more. Seems pretty easy teaching.

Now, with that, here’s the old text presented for the gods Palescai and Adeblen. This text is presented as is and I’ll workshop it on the other end.

Palescai

Lord of Battle and Cunning, He Who Plans, The Grand Commander, The Master of War

Greater Inner God
Symbol: An open book with a sword lain along its spine
Alignment: Lawful Good
Portfolio: Strategy, tactics, victory, virtue, faith, defence of the weak.
Worshipers: Paladins, knights, generals, commanders of great armies
Cleric Alignments: LG, NG, LN
Domains: Divination, Glory, Good, Knowledge, Law, Planning, War
Favoured Weapon: Quarterstaff

Palescai is the god to whom many who engage in valorous acts pray. Populous and well known in the world of men, Palescai is closer in some ways to Erhymn to being a true god of humankind. However, his lawfulness and predilection towards order mean that some races of humanity find his service onerous.

Palescai appears as a willowy human male, whose left leg is always crippled. He walks with the aid of a quarterstaff. Palescai’s avatar is in fact one of the most commonly seen in Cobrin`Seil, picking through battlefields, roaming roadsides past the fields of famous battles in great wars, or simply considering such things in large, dusty libraries.

Palescai resents the implication that he is inflexible, and as such, his clerics are free to pray for spells at any time provided they do it once a day. However, most clerics of Palescai prefer to do it at the rising of the sun.

Palescai’s presence is often sought by generals, and his religion revere a tome written by Palescai’s first student, Tenshin of the Way. This tome, known as the Scripture of Shin, speaks of many simple things and teaches of complicated things through simplicity.

Palescai’s worshippers frequently take up the mantle of lawkeepers, and have an almost vigilante-like method of doing so. Frequently, clerics or Paladins of Palescai roam the streets at night, thwarting crimes they find, and depositing their perpetrators in guardhouses in the morning. This sort of behaviour tends to be curbed in societies where it is frowned upon.

Adeblen

The Reveller in War, The Ravager, the Savage Face of Battle

Greater Inner God
Symbol: A white skeletal hand fused to a black and gold sword hilt.
Alignment: Lawful Evil.
Portfolio: War, battles, strategy, tactics
Worshipers: Warlords, Savage armies, Tyrants, Evil Warmongers
Cleric Alignments: LE, NE, LN
Domains: Domination, Hatred, Knowledge, Law, Planning, Tyranny, War
Favoured Weapon: Longsword

While Palescai brings to mind the image of a classic Paladin, astride horse, lance in hand, longsword readied, and armour gleaming, Adeblen embodies all that is foul in a battle. Terrorism, fear, heaping bodies, charnel foulness, and the ever-present stench of death, all are hallmarks of a deed well done to a cleric of Adeblen. She is a harsh and cruel mistress, given to almost insane fury in battle, despite her lawful alignment, and is not above exploiting more chaotic forces.

Adeblen appears as a voluptuous figured, impractically clad woman with a pair of longswords and a longbow. She is always remarkably beautiful, after a harsh, angular fashion, and her hands are always stained slightly with blood. Adeblen appears to be almost naked on a battlefield, but she also knows the value of intimidation, and always wears invisible armour. Her faith is on the rise amongst the expansionists in Nbyana, who perceive her as a great goddess of war and power. Particularly the Leopardmen of the Nbyana rainforests revere her.

Adeblen’s clerics pray for spells immediately after waking – before eating or performing any other deeds. Adeblen demands absolute dedication from her clerics, and demands to be the foremost in the minds of any follower.

Christ, Adeblen’s description is stupid.

Okay, let’s look at some stuff in this that I like and will keep using.

First up, I like the closing paragraph from Adeblen of ‘when their clerics pray, and why they think of it that way.’ That’s good. That’s important because it’s a meaningless detail for most forms of play, but it’s also meaningful for setting the tone of the rituals and rites of worshipping a deity. A deity is an anchor to the world, and what’s more, there’s a sort of inherent insider knowledge at work with it. Most characters won’t know or care how that specific detail of worship impacts your life, and that means that you can use it in roleplay to express that detail.

I’ll come help you with breakfast prep, after my morning prayers. You understand.

And that gives you an avenue to talk about it. That can be cool and fun. So that detail is something I think all deity entries should have.

Second, I do still like the idea of having multiple gods to represent war in different facets. The idea of Palescai as this War God that doesn’t want to engage in war is pretty interesting, even if the idea was malformed at the start. I also like the idea that he wears marks of having been in war – the fact that he’s disabled is something I ostensibly like because I’m a big fan of transcendental things that have to live with human experiences to maintain their connection to humanity. Superhero stuff and all. And speaking of superhero stuff, Palescai really does tap into a vision early on in-setting of gods that are like superheroes – he’s basically kind of like Paladin Ninja Batman. In a revision, I expect he would be a god who recognises asymmetry and expenditure in warfare. He is the reluctance to engage.

Also, the idea of these two in opposition is a bit unnecessary and I don’t know why I need a god of war to have an explicitly evil alignment. That plays into the idea that gods may exist as agents of causing things, and it also plays into fairly boring ideas of ‘the god of war wants to start wars, because wars.’ I think it’s a little more interesting if their relationship is one of resistance and acceptance. Also, like, it’s weird to me just how much ‘gods of war’ seem necessary for settings when you consider that our current culture doesn’t have that? I mean, some sects of Christianity claim a sort of warlike Jesus, but nope, it seems it’s mostly borrowing from Greek myth, and even then it kind of makes the god of war a satan figure (thanks, Xena).

That gives us Palescai: Okay idea at the heart of it.

But Adeblen, woo.

Woo lawd.

I am sure at some point I described her, in my teen years, as ‘like Jessica Rabbit in Death Knight Armour.’ That just seems the kind of silly shit I was trying to evoke with that description. Now, the irony is that if she was that, but the armour wasn’t invisible she’d probably look pretty badass and fine. I’m perfectly willing to accept the idea of superheroic forces – like gods and the like – on the battlefield doing impractical things like having their hair and face visible. Wearing invisible armour is really dumb because what message is she trying to project with that that isn’t really a message I, an idiot, wanted to project?

There’s also just really silly wording here. Like check out : She is a harsh and cruel mistress, given to almost insane fury in battle, despite her lawful alignment, and is not above exploiting more chaotic forces.

This is not, really, a sentence. It’s four clauses jammed together. She’s harsh and cruel, okay. She can be angry in battle, again, okay. Her alignment is lawful. But she exploits ‘more chaotic forces?’ This is padding word count, it’s needless, and it’s using just basic gamey language to try and template a meaningless sludgey content. I hate this in hindsight. I really hate when the language used to describe the game culture has to resort to such blatantly game languagey speak.

Let’s look at revising these two gods, and let’s go for a much smaller box of revised text. Things like domains, I don’t feel like sorting out right now, and they’re a mechanical concern that I’m not really keyed into any more. Let’s just give these two a shorter summary.


Palescai

Who Holds His Hand

Symbol: An open book with a sword lain along its spine
Alignment: Lawful
Portfolio: Strategy, tactics, victory, restraint
Worshippers: Paladins, knights, generals, those waiting or enduring something
Favoured Weapon: Quarterstaff

Palescai is a god of war, whose dogma teaches the importance of avoiding war at all costs. The Palescain vision of war is an expenditure of resources that courts risk with potential disastrous outcomes. The faith of Palescai emphasises then all ways to minimise the impact or commonality of war. This is used to justify strong borders and fortifications in some cases, and diplomatic engagements or even vigilante justice in others.  At best, Palescain faithful are thoughtful and patient warriors slow to anger but willing to do so. At worst, Palescain faithful use other people as their excuses to do violence and build walls.

Palescai himself incarnates as an individual always with a quarterstaff, and dressed for travel, not for war. While sometimes he can be found at sites of wars where they are brewing, or trapped in sieges on one side or the other or both, his incarnations are rare.

Worshippers of Palescai prepare spells and perform their rites as the last of their morning rituals. Waking up, eating, drinking, preparing for any travel for the day or beginning to prepare work should take precedence, and Palescai is patient.


Adeblen

The Face Of Battle

God
Symbol: A black and gold sword hilt.
Alignment: Chaotic
Portfolio: War, battles, strategy, tactics
Worshippers: Those who need to be independent in war – soldiers, raiders, bandits
Favoured Weapon: Longsword

Adeblen is a goddess of war, whose dogma teaches the importance of ending war with urgency. Adeblen’s ideology of war can be seen in terms of decisive action and accepting the aftermath. The faithful of Adeblen rarely have a unified, formal vision of her dogma or codified rules. Instead, her faithful tend to share an ideology of action over deliberation, and violence as an end unto itself. At best, Adeblen’s faithful are driven and decisive and willing to bring their force to bear against worthy foes. At worst, Adeblen’s faithful fight not for purpose or cause or pay, but just to continue to fight.

Adeblen’s incarnation is a red-haired woman  clad in black armour with an unnecessry number of spikes and heavy bladed edges on it, as befits armour that never needs to actually be worn. Adeblen incarnates herself only on the most tumultuous of battlefields, where there is no chance her presence can swing the battle one way or another. She appears, she fights with everyone from all sides, thoughtlessly hacking and slashing in the name of indulging in the violence.

Adeblen’s clerics pray for spells immediately after waking – before eating or performing any other deeds. Adeblen demands absolute dedication from her clerics, and demands to be the foremost in the minds of any follower.


There, that’s a simpler write-up, gives a clearer impression of what it’s like to be a worshipper of those gods, and it treats the gods themselves as forces of nature rather than roaming political agents, which I think is a good idea for when the portfolio in question is something like war itself.

Yikes, though, those early descriptions.

Still, sometimes you have to look at yourself, honestly and critically.

Comments are closed.