Dungeons and Dragons: Krystallos
The Totems of Krystallos
While the Totems all belong to the same pantheon there is a fairly wide range of religious practices throughout Krystallos. Since the Totems exist as physical forms they aren’t generally imagined as having organic forms. The Totems aren’t seen as personalities but, rather, elemental forces that influence the world. They do choose and empower members of their clergy as Clerics, Healers and Paladins and they have been known to answer the prayers of their followers. A Totem is always the primary deity within their own territory – Amethyst in the Kingdom of Amethyst, Sapphire in the Sapphire Forest, and so forth. However, the other Totems are usually venerated within their spheres of influence. All sailors, for instance, offer prayers to Opal for safe passage on the seas no matter where they are from. The main temple of each Totem is centered around the Totem itself. However, there are multiple smaller temples throughout the lands – each containing a small gem shard chipped from the Totem that serves as a link. Clerics and the faithful often have small shards of the Totems as well.
The Afterlife in Krystallos
Different peoples have different notions of the afterlife. The kobolds, halflings and most human nations believe in the twin lands of Elysium and Gehenna and that souls go to one or the other upon death depending on the quality of one’s life. Exactly what constitutes good deeds and bad might change from culture to culture. The dwarves believe that one’s soul is absorbed by the totem and held in trust until the time comes to be reborn in this world – into either a higher or lower caste depending on one’s life. The elves have a complex afterlife where one is judged moment by moment in a personal ledger and sent to any one of a dozen places of punishment or reward. The gnomes believe there is no afterlife and, so, life must be lived fully in the here and now.
Pantheon of Evil
Before the Great Invasion, Krystallos had no evil deities. The invasion changed all that. The invaders served Tiamat, a goddess of evil. Overseeing the invasion forces were Tiamat’s six god-generals. Each of these beings served as both leaders in the invasion and deities worshipped by the invaders. Since the end of the Great Invasion, Tiamat and her god-generals have been worshipped by pockets of invaders who were left behind when the bulk of the invasion force retreated. They have also become objects of worship by native cults seeking more evil and, some whisper, more powerful entities.
Tiamat: The evil force behind the Great Invasion, no one on Krystallos has seen her and lived. Whispers, however, describe her either as a human with pale skin, dark hair and terrible beauty or as a something disturbingly similar in shape to the Totems of Krystallos, only with five heads.
Vecna: Vecna and his wizard-priests formed the magical muscle of the Great Invasion. A corpse-like being missing his left hand and eye, Vecna wielded magic so powerful he could transform entire battalions to stone or melt them into gibbering pools of slime. Tomes stolen from Vecna’s wizard-priests formed the foundation of wizardry in Krystallos.
Eclavdra: The keeper of Tiamat’s secrets was Eclavdra. She and her legion of spies and seers provided intelligence on Krystallos for the invaders. As sadistic as she is beautiful, she could break the powerful with the merest whisper of a torture. She appears as an elf, though with jet black skin.
Acererak: An army is only as powerful as its weapons and keeps. The same was true of the Invasion. The architect who led Tiamat’s engineers has a knowledge of architecture and craftsmanship that could be much admired if it wasn’t for the perverse deadliness of his creations. Decades were spent destroying Acererak’s fortresses in Krystallos – a task made even more difficult because of the evil that radiated from the very stone of the buildings and the sadistic traps that seemed designed to destroy spirit as much as body.
Strahd: A being of pure evil and the night, Strahd created and led the undead shock troops of Tiamat’s invasion. A thing of nightmares, the pale skinned creature dressed in the clothing of nobles inspired fear as his forces turned night in Krystallos from a time of rest to a time of terror.
Sakatha: A lizardman similar to the kobolds, Sakatha ruled the slaves of Tiamat’s army. The poor wretches who dug trenches for the armies of Venger, cleaned the torture chambers of Eclavdra, served as beasts of burden for Acererak’s engineers, fed the shock toops of Strahd and served as experimental fodder for the wizard-priests of Vecna were under Sakatha’s domain. He is said to have especially relished the chance to break the spirits and warp the bodies and minds of captured Krystallos natives.
Venger: The leader of the troops, Venger was a brilliant strategist whose clever plans destroyed the Kingdom of Obsidian and nearly conquered Krystallos itself. A master of disguise as well as tactics, Venger was known for infiltrating an enemy camp and dining with the general of an opposing force the night before he crushed them in battle.