Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Original Castles & Crusades Revolution - Kingdoms of the Living & the Dead - - Clark Aston Smith's The Charnal God

 "Mordiggian is the god of Zul-Bha-Sair," said the innkeeper with unctuous solemnity. "He has been the god from years that are lost to man's memory in shadow deeper than the subterranes of his black temple. There is no other god in Zul-Bha-Sair. And all who die within the walls of the city are sacred to Mordiggian. Even the kings and the optimates, at death, are delivered into the hands of his muffled priests. It is the law and the custom. A little while, and the priests will come for your bride."
The Charnel God By Clark Ashton Smith

Rodney Mathews artwork used without permission. No copyright or trademark infringement is intended. 

Zul-Bha-Sair is exactly the type of city that one might find on Zothique & yet not exactly be your typical fantasy city. On the whole Zul-Bha-Sair is a city that is entirely peaceful unless your PC dies here. And then all bets are off as the silver masked priests claim the body. They have the backing of one of the last of the Great Old Ones for "All who die in Zul-Bha-Sair are the property of Mordiggian. " And on the whole that one statement brings into sharp focus the fact that 
Mordiggian isn't a god that shall be refused his due. Castles & Crusades necromancers are not usually mentioned in the long list of vile villains of the game. However adventures like Mark Taormino's 'Shadow of the Necromancer' takes on a whole new pale in lands such as Zul-Bha-Sair.

Zul-Bha-Sair's silver faced priests of Mordiggan might actually employ the PC's to stop the necromancer. The PC's take on the holy mission of Mordiggian to stop such a dangerous & perverse abomination because the dead don't rest easy within the lands of Zul-Bha-Sair. 
Yes, the undead are nothing more then actually horrors that should not be in the eyes of Mordiggian. 
The god may be a monster but it's a monster that serves the people of Zothique in several ways. This Great Old one keeps plague, disease, and other threats down away from the living. 
These & other services come at the price of the cults of 
Mordiggian. Prices that the people of Zothique are more then willing to pay. 
And this brings up the grey lines of alignment on Zothique itself. This is something players are going to have to deal with. These lines of good & evil are blurred as  
The Charnel God By Clark Ashton Smith shows time & again. 
Treasure & coin are not going to be a problem for the silver masked priests of Mordiggian. They have access to unending treasures of the underworld of Zothique & are more then the PC's know.  I've used the silver faced priests of Mordiggan before as patrons for parties in Castles & Crusades. 
The reactions have been mixed as clerics of Mordiggan have been mixed in with our regular parties of adventurers on Zothique. The power of the charnel god has been a blessing especially with hordes of undead. Even though the cleric was human we had suspisions about his ancestry that proved key within a certain adventure involving another kingdom on Zothique. 

 The Charnel God By Clark Ashton Smith is one of the key Zothique stories in my mind. Why?! Because of the richness of the amount of background that we get on the whole of the world of Zothique. The ways & norms of Zothique are completely alien. This is especially true of the lands of  Zul-Bha-Sair. From pauper to king no one escapes the silver priest's grasp. And this leads to many complications for resurrections of PC's and NPC's. For no one man escapes them & this is escpecially true of thier human clerics in the lands of Zothique. 
Because of the unusual nature of the silver faced masked priests. 
 The first place to start with this is the Castle Keeper's Guide.  There are several systems within the Castle Keeper's Guide for variations of clerics & thier systems. There's also a great deal more information on Mordiggan & his clerics within the D20 Zothique pdf as well.  This information should be kept in mind when creating adventures within the lands of  Zul-Bha-Sair. 

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