Gods of the Phoenix Empire
Within the Phoenix Empire, the most widely worshipped gods are the Twelve, named by Shen-Lun the Enlightened as most deserving of worship among all the divinities. Foremost among the Twelve is Junfeng, whose patronage gives the Phoenix Empire its name. Priests sometimes refer to the Twelve-and-One; the "one," in this context, is Baemyong, Junfeng's ancient and eternal rival, and by extension, the enemy of all the Twelve. Beyond the Twelve are the Hundred, the Imperial term for all the other gods, a selection of whom are presented here; it is likely that the ranks of other gods number far more than a mere hundred. Small cults may revere other beings (archdevils, demon and empyreal lords, and other powerful outsiders) but these are not presented here.
- 1 Table: Gods of the Phoenix Empire
- 2 Deities of the Phoenix Empire
- 3 New Subdomains
- 4 Religious Practices, Spiritual Considerations, and Planar Miscellany
Table: Gods of the Phoenix Empire
|Chih Yu||CN||Animal, Glory, Liberation, Strength, War||Blood, Ferocity, Freedom, Fur, Heroism, Revolution||Greataxe|
|Hallakdegi||N||Community, Luck, Plant, Repose, Travel||Ancestors, Curse, Decay, Growth, Family, Trade||Flail|
|Hei Feng||CN||Air, Destruction, Luck, Strength, Weather||Catastrophe, Cloud, Curse, Resolve, Storms, Wind||Longsword|
|Hu Dai Liang||NG||Glory, Nobility, Protection, Trickery, War||Deception, Defence, Heroism, Honour, Leadership, Tactics||Spear|
|Ja-Cheong-Bi||CG||Air, Charm, Knowledge, Luck, Rune||Fate, Love, Language, Memory, Thought, Wind||Rapier|
|Junfeng||LG||Fire, Good, Healing, Nobility, Sun||Archon, Ash, Leadership, Light, Martyr, Resurrection||Longbow|
|Lah||CN||Chaos, Destruction, Travel, Trickery, Water||Azata, Catastrophe, Deception, Exploration, Oceans, Trade||Trident|
|Qi Zhong||NG||Good, Healing, Knowledge, Magic, Protection||Agathion, Divine, Memory, Purity, Restoration, Resurrection||Heavy mace|
|Thui||N||Charm, Darkness, Protection, Water, Weather||Love, Moon, Night, Oceans, Purity, Seasons||Scimitar|
|Wuhang Long||N||Air, Earth, Fire, Magic, Water||Arcane, Divine, Ice, Metal, Smoke, Wind||Unarmed strike|
|Wun Ja||LN||Artifice, Community, Earth, Knowledge, Law||Archon, Home, Inevitable Memory, Metal, Toil||Glaive|
|Yun||LE||Death, Evil, Law, Nobility, Repose||Daemon, Devil, Inevitable, Martyr, Souls, Undead||Sickle|
|Baemyong||CE||Darkness, Destruction, Evil, Madness, Trickery||Catastrophe, Deception, Demon, Insanity, Loss, Rage||Falchion|
|Erlik||CE||Animal, Death, Destruction, Fire, War||Blood, Catastrophe, Fur, Murder, Rage, Smoke||Greatclub|
|Leng Eryu||CN||Charm, Knowledge, Madness, Magic, Rune||Arcane, Divine, Lust, Memory, Nightmare, Wards||Bladed scarf|
|Pai Huai||CN||Charm, Luck, Strength, Travel, Trickery||Deception, Exploration, Fate, Ferocity, Lust, Thievery||Warhammer|
|Pale Mistress||NE||Death, Earth, Evil, Trickery, Water||Caves, Daemon, Deception, Ice, Murder, Undead||Spiked chain|
|Parasra Vrani||N||Artifice, Darkness, Knowledge, Protection, Repose||Ancestors, Loss, Memory, Purity, Souls, Toil||Scythe|
|River Eye||NG||Animal, Luck, Travel, Water, Weather||Exploration, Fate, Fur, Ice, Storms, Trade||Quarterstaff|
|Sen Foon||CG||Charm, Healing, Luck, Plant, Sun||Day, Fate, Growth, Love, Lust, Restoration||Kama|
|Seongju||LG||Artifice, Community, Good, Luck, Protection||Archon, Construct, Defence, Family, Fate, Home||Dagger|
Deities of the Phoenix Empire
The Adversary, the Ebon Serpent, God of Betrayal and Darkness
Alignment: chaotic evil
Domains: Darkness, Destruction, Evil, Madness, Trickery
Subdomains: Catastrophe, Deception, Demon, Insanity, Loss, Rage
Favoured Weapon: falchion
Symbol: coiled, serpentine black dragon; Sacred Animal: snake
Baemyong is an ancient and evil god, brought into existence at the same time as Junfeng as his opposite and his most bitter enemy. Where Junfeng is a god of glorious light, Baemyong is a creature of darkness, terrible to behold. Where Junfeng soars in the heavens, serpentine Baemyong slithers through filth on his belly. Baemyong hates Junfeng, all he stands for, and all he has created; thus, among Baemyong's many schemes and long-term goals is the destruction of the Phoenix Empire. More generally, he is the god of betrayal and the patron of both betrayers and the betrayed; he is eager to manipulate the last into their own acts of hateful treachery in turn. He is also the god of shadows, dark reflections, dangerous illusions, imperfect creations, and unintended consequences. Other gods have tried to imprison him several times, but he knows many tricks to escape confinement and leave his captors clutching only his shadow.
Baemyong appears as a black, serpentine dragon of titanic proportions. He is unable to fly, but can cast an illusory body into the sky, though his shadow remains anchored to the ground. When wearing mortal guise, he appears as a handsome young man in dark, fine clothes, concealing some form of physical aberration.
Baemyong has no true allies among the other gods, but often works to manipulate Erlik and the Pale Mistress, pushing them towards actions that advance his own agenda. He hates Junfeng and by extension all of the Twelve, but perhaps because of his own flawed nature, feels an obsessive, possessive lust towards Ja-Cheong-Bi and Thui.
The Bellowing Bull, God of Might and Rebellion
Alignment: chaotic neutral
Domains: Animal, Glory, Liberation, Strength, War
Subdomains: Blood, Ferocity, Freedom, Fur, Heroism, Revolution
Favoured Weapon: greataxe
Symbol: clenched fist between bloodied bull's horns; Sacred Animal: bull
Chih Yu is a warrior god who taught the creation and use of weapons to mortals. In the past, he has aided mortal heroes who sought to depose or slay cruel gods, and also helped the slave-races of the giants rise up against their masters. For these transgressions and more he was condemned to endless toil in the Underworld, but Junfeng released him and gave him a position in the Twelve as the god of rebellion against unjust rule. Chih Yu exhorts his followers to listen to their own hearts rather than obediently submitting to duty and hierarchy, and to rise up against and slay oppressors, tyrants, the cruel, and the depraved.
Chih Yu appears as a towering and massively muscular man with the head of a black bull, his hands, muzzle, and golden horns caked with gore. In legend he has sometimes taken the form of a bronze bull, a river of blood, or a field of spearpoints that burst from the ground beneath his enemies.
Chih Yu owes his freedom to Junfeng and has sworn to serve him, and also to slay him should he ever deviate from the path of righteous rule. He enjoys the company of boisterous gods like Hei Feng and Pai Huai. Of all the other gods, he reserves a special hatred for Yun, who chained him in the Underworld.
Flame of the Underworld, Wolf-God of Hunger
Alignment: chaotic evil
Domains: Animal, Death, Destruction, Fire, War
Subdomains: Blood, Catastrophe, Fur, Murder, Rage, Smoke
Favoured Weapon: greatclub
Symbol: deformed skull wreathed in flame; Sacred Animal: wolf
Erlik is the god of monsters, hunger, burnt offerings, and natural disasters. He is the creator and first ruler of the Underworld, who hid himself in its depths to devour the condemned; upon discovering this, Yun chained him, bound his maw shut, and took over the rule of the Underworld in his stead. Erlik eventually escaped, thrashing against his bindings so violently that he cracked open the very earth, and ever since has schemed to reclaim his dark throne. Erlik encourages his followers to take whatever they want by force; if they want something and cannot take it, they should instead smash it, burn it, or otherwise destroy it. Those who claim something as their own but are too weak to hold on to or protect it should be scorned and slain. His worship is popular among orcs and ogres.
Erlik appears as an enormous wolf with a boar's tusks and the mane of a lion, matted and filthy. He sometimes appears as a stooped, bestial half-humanoid wielding a club. Erlik gorges himself on whatever he can find, but eats for the pleasure of eating, not out of any need for sustenance. He can create chimeric monsters by eating different creatures and vomiting up their commingled remains.
Erlik is all but defined by his hatred of the other gods, though he is not especially clever and is often the victim of Baemyong's manipulation. He wants to kill and devour Yun, and to claim the Underworld as his own once again. He holds gods of knowledge, magic, and beauty in particular contempt.
The Rice Husk Witch, Goddess of Agriculture, Curses, and Wealth
Domains: Community, Luck, Plant, Repose, Travel
Subdomains: Ancestors, Curse, Decay, Growth, Family, Trade
Favoured Weapon: flail
Symbol: rice sheaf; Sacred Animal: cat
Hallakdegi was a foundling and a slave who toiled beneath a succession of cruel masters before discovering her divine heritage and establishing herself as the goddess of agriculture. Her early life has left her with a vindictive streak, and she is the mistress of all manner of curses and creative punishments. Those who cross her are likely to find themselves driven mad or transformed into some manner of beast or plant. She is the goddess of growing things, family bonds, fields, roads, the cycle of birth and death, and honestly earned wealth. She especially hates thieves, cheats, and the idle rich (whom she views as thieving cheats), but is fond of those who are as clever as they are hard-working.
Hallakdegi appears as a woman in the latter half of her life with rice stalks braided into her hair, wearing the simple brown garb of a peasant farmer. She possesses many magical items disguised as common tools, and can take the form or a cat, an owl, or a sphinx-like chimera of cat, owl, and woman.
Hallakdegi prefers to keep her distance from other gods, considering many of them to be noisy nuisances who disturb her work or beg her aid for ever more outlandish or petty causes. She counts River Eye and Seongju as friends, and while Pai Huai's thieving, gambling, and philandering enrage her, she appreciates his willingness to apologise and to work hard to set right his misdeeds.
Duke of Thunder, God of Challenges and Storms
Alignment: chaotic neutral
Domains: Air, Destruction, Luck, Strength, Weather
Subdomains: Catastrophe, Cloud, Curse, Resolve, Storms, Wind
Favoured Weapon: longsword
Symbol: lightning bolt issuing from a black storm cloud; Sacred Animal: raven
Hei Feng, the god of storms, was once also the god of the sea, but forfeited his power over the oceans to Lah after losing a contest between the two. As the god of boasting and challenges, he refuses to back down or give ground, often to his own detriment. He is fond of cruel and humiliating forfeits, and will enforce them himself, if need be, with great enthusiasm; but though he is sly, he never cheats, and agrees readily to any forfeit demanded of him should be lose. Hei Feng is also the god of drumming, and is attended by four servants, called the counts of wind, rain, thunder, and lightning, each of whom bears a drum for the Duke of Thunder to strike.
Hei Feng appears as a muscular giant with dark, blue-grey skin and a mane of wild white hair. He has no face, having lost it in another contest, and instead wears an inhuman mask to show his mood. When his mood changes, he removes his mask to reveal another beneath; the discarded mask becomes a cloud. No two of Hei Feng's masks are entirely alike, and when his emotions are tumultuous, he must discard many masks in rapid succession, giving rise to great banks of clouds and terrible storms.
Hei Feng is a boisterous and unruly god whose relations with other deities are often strained and seldom better than simply cordial. He enjoys the company of Chih Yu and Pai Huai. He dislikes Lah, who won from him such a significant part of his divine power; somewhat irrationally, he also blames Lah for the loss of his face. Hei Feng does not actually know to whom he lost his face, since he was later tricked into forfeiting his memory of the victor.
Hu Dai Liang
The General of Heaven, Goddess of Strategy and Victory
Alignment: neutral good
Domains: Glory, Nobility, Protection, Trickery, War
Subdomains: Deception, Defence, Heroism, Honour, Leadership, Tactics
Favoured Weapon: spear
Symbol: fortified gate with red banners; Sacred Animal: horse
Hu Dai Liang is the greatest of the martial deities and a patron of all those who take up arms in a righteous cause, be they heroes, generals, or the most humble of soldiers. She is the captain and champion of the Twelve, and the protector of the armies of the Phoenix Empire. Hu Dai Liang blesses generals with inspiration, steadies the hands of the fearful and the inexperienced, and marshals the weary for one last push against the foe. She knows that no war is won by soldiers alone, and is also the patron of quartermasters, camp followers, and the builders of fortifications. She does, however, possess an overabundance of martial zeal, and can be single-minded in her promotion of war and violence where subtler tools might serve the Phoenix Empire better.
Hu Dai Liang appears as a striking woman with blue-black hair, clad in exquisite red lacquered armour. Her spear can transform from a javelin to a longspear or any length between with but a thought, and returns to her hand if thrown or knocked from her grip.
Hu Dai Liang's closest allies in the Twelve are Junfeng, Qi Zhong, and Wun Ja; she regards the virtues of righteous rule, civic order, learning, and medicine as pillars upon which the armies of the Phoenix Empire depend. She dislikes Chih Yu, whom she regards are crude, boorish, and untrustworthy. She finds herself ill-suited to the task of countering slippery Baemyong's schemes and instead regards Erlik as her deadliest foe.
The Nightingale, Goddess of Calligraphy, Poetry, and Love
Alignment: chaotic good
Domains: Air, Charm, Knowledge, Luck, Rune
Subdomains: Fate, Love, Language, Memory, Thought, Wind
Favoured Weapon: rapier
Symbol: songbird painted in ink; Sacred Animal: nightingale
Ja-Cheong-Bi is the goddess of beauty, love, and the written word. The script currently used in the Phoenix Empire is her creation, a gift to Shen-Lun the Enlightened when he communed with the gods at the Empire's founding. Though she considers calligraphy and poetry to be the highest forms of art, Ja-Cheong-Bi is a patron and an inspiration to all manner of artists and performers. Clever wordplay and small, random acts of kindness please her. She watches over young lovers, and sends omens in the form of songbirds to couples whom she particularly favours; signs of her ire, meanwhile, include spilled ink, damage to writing tools or musical instruments, and unintended, embarassing double meanings, in writing, speech, or song.
Ja-Cheong-Bi appears as a beautiful, delicate young woman, modestly dressed in a robe of green and gold. She prefers to speak in verse or according to the rules of formal speech; when she must do otherwise, she whispers, covering her mouth with her sleeve. Songbirds of all sorts attend her as messengers and helpers.
Ja-Cheong-Bi often associates with Qi Zhong; the relationship between the two has been likened to teacher and student, speaker and scribe, or father and daughter. She finds Hei Feng unpleasant and Leng Eryu unsettling, and does her polite best to avoid them both.
The Phoenix, Lord of Righteous Rule, Patron God of the Phoenix Empire
Alignment: lawful good
Domains: Fire, Good, Healing, Nobility, Sun
Subdomains: Archon, Ash, Leadership, Light, Martyr, Resurrection
Favoured Weapon: longbow
Symbol: phoenix rising from a bursting flame; Sacred Animal: phoenix
Junfeng is the lord of light and the supreme god of the Twelve. He is the patron and protector of the Phoenix Empire and, together with Shen-Lun the Enlightened, devised the principles of righteous rule by which the Empire is governed. As a token of his blessing, Junfeng gave the first Phoenix Emperor one of his feathers, burning with an undying flame, by which all subsequent Emperors have been tested. It is said that should the Empire ever fall irrecoverably from grace, Junfeng will rescind his blessing, and the flame will be extinguished. Junfeng is also a god of hope, healing, and heroic self-sacrifice in the service of a righteous cause. He encourages his followers to live righteously, tend to the sick and the needy, and oppose evil with all their strength, wherever it is found.
Junfeng appears as a man with the head and wings of a phoenix, richly robed in red and gold, standing before a disc of fire and light. His touch burns away sickness and immolates the wicked. He sometimes takes the form of a phoenix, a peacock with feathers of red and gold, or a man with red hair and golden eyes.
Junfeng maintains good relations with the rest of the Twelve and with all good-aligned deities. He seeks counsel from Qi Zhong as one might from a wise uncle, and trusts Hu Dai Liang as his incorruptible champion, though he also regards her as headstrong and single-minded. His opposite and bitter rival is Baemyong, whom he detests and works tirelessly to thwart. Through mercy and compassion, he does his best to moderate Yun's harsh judgements.
The Ocean Spirit, God of the Fickle Waves
Alignment: chaotic neutral
Domains: Chaos, Destruction, Travel, Trickery, Water
Subdomains: Azata, Catastrophe, Deception, Exploration, Oceans, Trade
Favoured Weapon: trident
Symbol: midnight blue ocean reflecting the moon; Sacred Animal: carp
Lah was once a minor spirit of the ocean who fell in love with Thui as she shone upon the waves one night. Thinking himself unworthy of the moon goddess, he set out to make himself greater, and eventually claimed the power and duties of the ocean god from Hei Feng. Since then, Lah and Thui have been inseparable. Lah is a fickle, brooding god, given to tempestuous moods; like the ocean, he often hides his stormy heart beneath a calm demeanour, but this does not make his wrath any less dangerous. Sailors and fishermen pray to him on moonlit nights, when Thui's calming presence is at its strongest and Lah's whims are at their most gentle. He is embodied not merely in the ocean's treacherous and deadly nature, but also in its tremendous bounty.
Lah wears the form of a towering, hairless man with midnight blue skin and white eyes, marked with a silver disc in the centre of his forehead. He wears robes of blue and black, trimmed with silver. Though he may take the shape of any ocean creature, such forms always have blue-black skin and are marked with the same silver disc.
Lah is utterly devoted to Thui, and nothing earns his wrath so surely as threatening or offending her. Though the contest in which he won his godhood from Hei Feng was a fair one, the storm god yet carries a grudge against him, and Lah regards him warily. He hates the Pale Mistress, seeing in her the corruption of the ocean's nature.
The Voice From Beyond, Goddess of Dead Languages and Secrets
Alignment: chaotic neutral
Domains: Charm, Knowledge, Madness, Magic, Rune
Subdomains: Arcane, Divine, Lust, Memory, Nightmare, Wards
Favoured Weapon: bladed scarf
Symbol: scroll with an indecipherable rune; Sacred Animal: moth
Leng Eryu is the goddess of things lost and forgotten. She collects dead languages, forbidden knowledge, and secrets whispered in solitude or taken to the grave. Those who prize their secrets fear her, and offer prayers and sacrifices to ward off her displeasure. Few mortals court her attention, however, for Leng Eryu is quite mad, and even her kindest whims can be dangerous. She is the goddess of obsessions, delusions, hallucinations, and dreams; vivid nightmares and dreams which hint at cryptic, hidden truths are sometimes called "the whispers of Leng Eryu." Mad prophets, scholars driven to ruin by their obsessive studies, and those who speak in tongues all bear her mark.
Leng Eryu appears as a woman whose body is wrapped tightly in long scrolls, in the fashion of a mummy; the scrolls bear fragments of writing in unknown languages. Over these bindings she wears a dishevelled robe. She may also take the form of a blind or mute woman, or a swarm of moths.
Leng Eryu seldom associates (or has reason to associate) with the other gods, though she enjoys the occasional company of gentler gods like River Eye and Sen Foon. As the goddess of secrets, she opposes Qi Zhong as a matter of self-preservation, though she otherwise bears him no particular ill will.
The Wandering Man, God of Alcohol, Courage, and Gambling
Alignment: chaotic neutral
Domains: Charm, Luck, Strength, Travel, Trickery
Subdomains: Deception, Exploration, Fate, Ferocity, Lust, Thievery
Favoured Weapon: warhammer
Symbol: drinking gourd; Sacred Animal: boar
Pai Huai was born a mortal, half-human and half-giant, and spent many years wandering the world, causing no small amount of trouble and enjoying the pleasures of drinking, gambling, and the company of women. He won his godhood and immortality from the previous god of gambling in a game of dice, though (he later learned) his opponent had in fact cheated, wishing to retire. Pai Huai is an emotional god, readily moved to both mirth and anger, and often acts rashly, much as he did in his mortal life. He has done many outrageous things while drunk, besotted, or desperate to pay a gambling debt, but when confronted with his misdeeds, spares no effort in setting things right.
Pai Huai appears as an enormously tall man of ample frame, wearing rugged but simple clothing. He is never without a bottle, keg, or gourd of alcohol, and carries a magic hammer which can take the form of any other simple tool he might need. He is quite proud, and fiercely protective, of his long moustache.
Pai Huai associates most often with Chih Yu and Hei Feng, and celebrations or brawls involving the three are legendary. He thoroughly enjoys Sen Foon's talent for brewing intoxicants, though he finds the god himself a bit too laid-back for his liking. He makes no secret of his disdain for sombre, stuffy gods like Wuhang Long and Wun Ja, and is outspoken in his hatred of the Pale Mistress and Yun.
The Pale Mistress
Lady of Dread, Goddess of Drowning and Vengeance
Alignment: neutral evil
Domains: Death, Earth, Evil, Trickery, Water
Subdomains: Caves, Daemon, Deception, Ice, Murder, Undead
Favoured Weapon: spiked chain
Symbol: wedding ring upon a bloated, rotting hand; Sacred Animal: fly
The Pale Mistress is a horrible goddess who courts the worship of assassins, necromancers, spurned lovers, and all who nurse hateful grudges in their hearts. She loves nothing more than to humiliate, terrorise, and slay, and revels in acts of creative cruelty. Her followers whisper a prayer to her whenever they kill, and though she accepts the quick demise delivered by an assassin's blade, she truly revels in the drawn-out agonies of death by drowning, starvation, plague, or exposure. Hatred and the thirst for revenge sustain her, and the screams of a prisoner whose last vestiges of hope have been snatched away are as sweet music to her. She disdains “white necromancers,” preferring those who fully indulge their depraved whims in the search for obscene lore and the creation of ever more profane undead.
The Pale Mistress appears as a grotesque, naked corpse, colossally fat in life and further bloated through decay. This manifestation is often enormous, resembling the corpse of a female ogre or giant. Her putrid flesh is white, thick with maggots, and sloughs readily from her bones, but despite this, her grip is murderously strong.
The Pale Mistress is almost universally despised by other gods, though Baemyong often devises ways to weave her agenda into his own schemes. In turn, she hates the gods of beauty, good health, and the respectful treatment of the dead; in particular, she seeks to destroy Parasra Vrani, and to deface Ja-Cheong-Bi and drive her to madness.
The Charnel Merchant, Goddess of the Unquiet Dead
Domains: Artifice, Darkness, Knowledge, Protection, Repose
Subdomains: Ancestors, Loss, Memory, Purity, Souls, Toil
Favoured Weapon: scythe
Symbol: skull wearing a translucent veil; Sacred Animal: beetle
Parasra Vrani is the goddess of the dead. She protects tombs, grave goods, and funeral offerings, and is an advocate and ambassador for the dead when the actions of the living disturb their rest. Her priests mediate between gods, mortals, and the restless or anguished ghosts of those forgotten by their descendants, who died especially awful or unjust deaths, or whose graves have been violated. Necromancers who create mindless undead from the corpses of the unwilling risk her ire, and intelligent undead creatures which exist only to torment the living likewise forfeit her protection. She is a somewhat carnal being, eager to indulge in physical pleasures; the death of the body does not, in her eyes, compel the mortification of the spirit, and she encourages the spirits under her care to likewise sate their hungers and fulfil their desires as best their incorporeal nature allows, so long as none come to harm.
Parasra Vrani appears as a fanged and four-armed woman with black hair, golden eyes, and skin the colour of blood, wearing fantastical golden jewellery. When angered, her flesh sloughs off and takes the form of a tattered dress, revealing her gleaming bones and wickedly sharp claws.
Parasra Vrani finds herself standing in opposition to the other gods of death as often as not; neither Hallakdegi nor Yun agree that the dead ought to cling to the world of the living. She in turn opposes Erlik and the Pale Mistress, who brutalise and defile the dead. On the other hand, she and Sen Foon are on very friendly terms.
Master of Medicine, God of Healing, Learning, and Magic
Alignment: neutral good
Domains: Good, Healing, Knowledge, Magic, Protection
Subdomains: Agathion, Divine, Memory, Purity, Restoration, Resurrection
Favoured Weapon: heavy mace
Symbol: wheel with spokes made of earth, fire, metal, water, and wood; Sacred Animal: crane
Qi Zhong is the god of knowledge, medicine, and magic. He is the patron of scholars, tutors, philosophers, and healers of all kinds, and his conversations with Shen-Lun helped shape the Empire's outlook and ideals, as well as inspiring the founding of several of its longest-standing schools and colleges. As a tutor, Qi Zhong prefers debate to dictation, and independent study to rote learning. His followers feel it is their duty to preserve and to share knowledge, as well as tending to the sick and the wounded. In his role as the god of healing, Qi Zhong is also the god of bodily and spiritual health; few ailments vex him so much as those that result from the sufferer's own indiscretions, and so he espouses the virtues of caring for one's own body and soul.
Qi Zhong appears as a kindly older man dressed in the robes of a healer or a scholar, carrying a cane or a pestle and mortar. His robes bear intricate patterns in brown, red, white, blue, and green, which seem to flicker and shift, one colour becoming more prominent than the others depending on Qi Zhong's moods.
Qi Zhong associates closely with Junfeng, as an adviser might to an emperor, and with Ja-Cheong-Bi, as a scholar to a student. He regards Sen Foon as undisciplined and self-indulgent, but appreciates the medicinal value of many of his creations. Leng Eryu's secret-keeping habits vex him, though he bears her no actual malice.
The Boatman, God of River Travel and Rain
Alignment: neutral good
Domains: Animal, Luck, Travel, Water, Weather
Subdomains: Exploration, Fate, Fur, Ice, Storms, Trade
Favoured Weapon: quarterstaff
Symbol: toy boat carrying a lantern; Sacred Animal: otter
River Eye is the guardian god of waterways and wetlands, and the protector of the creatures and people that dwell there. He is the god of gentle rain, and farmers often pray to him to ward off droughts and torrential downpours alike. There are few grand temples to River Eye, but hundred of his small shrines trace the course of rivers and canals through the Empire, seeming almost to crowd their banks in places. River Eye is a humble, gentle, and jovial god who loves to wander the world in mortal guise, playing the role of boatman to those in need, or travelling as a passenger to enjoy the hospitality of those who ply their trade upon the waters in his name. He is known to send lantern archon servitors to guide lost travellers, especially children, to safety. Humble acts of charity and kindness please him.
River Eye appears as a stocky creature of diminutive stature, often resembling nothing so much as a humanoid otter, though he takes the form of a gnome or halfling almost as often. He wears a green robe and is never seen without a walking stick or a boating pole; often he carries a lantern or an umbrella as well.
River Eye politely welcomes all but the cruellest of gods to his abode, and is particularly fond of Hallakdegi and Thui. He shares with Hei Feng responsibility over rain (which belongs to Hei Feng when it starts its fall from the clouds, but belongs to River Eye by the time it lands upon the ground) but finds the Duke of Thunder exhausting company. The Pale Mistress and her cult are anathema to River Eye.
The Indolent Blossom, God of Flowers and Idle Pleasures
Alignment: chaotic good
Domains: Charm, Healing, Luck, Plant, Sun
Subdomains: Day, Fate, Growth, Love, Lust, Restoration
Favoured Weapon: kama
Symbol: iridescent lotus blossom; Sacred Animal: peacock
Sen Foon is the god of flowering and medicinal plants, idle pleasures, and rich rewards. It was Sen Foon who first taught mortals how to make perfumes, cosmetics, and narcotics, and he considers the creation of new drugs to be the highest form of art; thus, he works constantly to bless the world with new plants and sweet-smelling flowers. Sen Foon wants all mortals to be happy, and feels that toil ought to be rewarded; unfortunately, his first and favourite solution to the problem of unhappiness is the offering of drugs, which can be enjoyed by all, even those exhausted by their labours. He is a god of carnal pleasures, self-indulgence, and the appreciation of beauty.
Sen Foon appears as a handsome young man with dark hair and green skin. An intoxicating scent follows him, reminiscent of sweet fruit and gorgeous flowers. Sometimes he wears an alchemist's simple robe, with a lotus flower growing from the crown of his head; at other times, he wears only a garland of lotus blossoms.
Sen Foon has made romantic overtures toward (and been rebuffed by) most good and neutral deities, though Parasra Vrani often finds the time to dally with him. His least favourite gods are those of cruelty, force, and suffering; thus, he despises Erlik and the Pale Mistress. His fondness for his own creations prevents him from being a particularly active force in divine politics.
The Majordomo, Master of the Household Gods
Alignment: lawful good
Domains: Artifice, Community, Good, Luck, Protection
Subdomains: Archon, Construct, Defence, Family, Fate, Home
Favoured Weapon: dagger
Symbol: wooden doorway; Sacred Animal: mouse
Seongju is the protector of the home and the master of all the lesser spirits that attend a house. A shrine to Seongju is a vital part of a home's safety and a family's prosperity, though often such shrines are simple, consisting of no more than an idol and an offering-bowl on a shelf. Lacking Seongju's direction, the spirits of a house fall quickly into disharmony and begin to neglect their duties; while they bicker, food spoils, objects break, and all manner of minor mishaps befall the home's occupants. Seongju also wards the house against bad luck, disease, and evil spirits. Guests are generally expected to pray or make an offering to Seongju before spending their first night in their host's home.
Seongju appears as a neatly-kept, middle-aged man, dressed in a plain but fine robe and wearing a medallion of office around his neck, upon which is inscribed the name of the house or family he protects. He carries a scroll upon which is written the contract between the spirits of a house and its occupants, and a cane to discipline the unruly.
Seongju is a busy god who seldom intrudes upon the affairs or other deities, though his sphere of influence overlaps somewhat with those of Hallakdegi and Wun Ja, to whom he generally defers. He opposes those who would bring trouble into his house, which, to his mind, includes most chaotic and evil deities.
The Moon Spirit, Goddess of Childbirth, Marriage, and the Seasons
Domains: Charm, Darkness, Protection, Water, Weather
Subdomains: Love, Moon, Night, Oceans, Purity, Seasons
Favoured Weapon: scimitar
Symbol: full moon over the ocean; Sacred Animal: carp
Thui is the goddess of the moon, the tides, and the seasons. She is the protector of maidens, mothers, and newborn children, and it is in Thui's name that betrothals and marriages are consecrated. Long ago her beauty inspired Lah, then but a minor ocean spirit, to attain godhood and court her; as such, couples whose relationships are made difficult by distance, differences in social standing, or other barriers often pray to her. Thui is a gentle goddess at heart, but is tenacious in the defence of those in her care; to break a lover's heart or betray a spouse is to earn her undying enmity, and little compares to her fury for those who menace women or harm children.
Thui appears as a beautiful woman with silver hair, black eyes, and skin the colour of moonstone, marked with a black disc in the centre of her forehead. She wears a gorgeous bridal dress or robe in the local fashion, always cut to bare her shoulders. Her favourite animal form is a carp with silver-white scales, marked with a black disc on its head, though she may also take the form of a similarly-coloured albatross, turtle, or snow leopard.
Thui is Lah's devoted wife, and the ocean god is rarely far from her side. As a patron and protector of lovers, she finds common ground with both Ja-Cheong-Bi and Hu Dai Liang. Of all the evil gods, she most despises Erlik for his wantonly destructive ways.
Dragon of the Five Elements, God of Sorcery
Domains: Air, Earth, Fire, Magic, Water
Subdomains: Arcane, Divine, Ice, Metal, Smoke, Wind
Favoured Weapon: unarmed strike
Symbol: necklace of nine wooden beads; Sacred Animal: dragon
Wuhang Long is the god of dragons, sorcery, and the elements. Through magic, he bridges the gaps between different elemental schema, bringing understanding and balance. He is the god of heredity and bloodlines, and of inherent ability and inherited power, though, curiously, he shows his favour to those who rebel against the constraints and expectations of their heritage just as often as to those who embrace it. He is otherwise a rather distant and aloof gods, who counsels his followers to seek understanding of the world by setting themselves apart from it through solitary meditation and ascetic habits. Through single-minded focus, free from earthly attachments and distractions, the devotees of Wuhang Long aspire to mastery and enlightenment.
Wuhang Long appears as a shaven-headed man clad in no more than a simple robe and sandals. Alone, he often surrounds himself with some extreme of the elements – a raging inferno, a howling blizzard, or the ocean's depths. He may wear the shape of any dragon, or assume a serpentine elemental form.
Wuhang Long considers himself above most worldly affairs and the ebb and flow of divine politics; though he respects Junfeng, he cannot be said to defer to him. As a god of magic, he confers occasionally with Qi Zhong. In his role as the god of balance, he finds himself opposing Baemyong.
Architect of the Shining Metropolis, Goddess of Cities and Mountains
Alignment: lawful neutral
Domains: Artifice, Community, Earth, Knowledge, Law
Subdomains: Archon, Home, Inevitable, Memory, Metal, Toil
Favoured Weapon: glaive
Symbol: many-tiered pagoda before a mountain; Sacred Animal: falcon
Wun Ja is the goddess of cities and civilisation. As Junfeng is the patron of the Phoenix Empire, so is Wun Ja the patron and protector of Jaoling, the Imperial City. Her sphere of influence as the goddess of cities includes contracts, professions, architecture and building, and wisdom; she is also the goddess of mountains and enduring things. As such, Wun Ja is a popular and busy goddess, with many worshippers and a great many responsibilities. She encourages her followers to settle, to build, and to multiply; as civilisation flourishes, so too does her power and influence blossom. Wun Ja can be haughty, but is seldom rash; she is a cautious strategist and a player of long games, respected by even those gods whose domains naturally bring them into conflict with her own.
Wun Ja appears as a tall, slender woman in exquisite robes of blue, grey, and silver. She always wears her hair in elaborate styles, often accompanied by an ornate headdress. She may appear in a form of stone or metal, ranging in size from a human woman to a mountain; she may also inhabit and animate any mountain.
Wun Ja cultivates many relationships, and her most prominent allies are Junfeng, Hu Dai Liang, and Seongju. She desires to be on better terms with Hallakdegi, but she and the field goddess tend to rub each other the wrong way. Of the gods of chaos and destruction, she holds a particularly fierce dislike for Erlik.
Guardian of the Gate, God of the Underworld
Alignment: lawful evil
Domains: Death, Evil, Law, Nobility, Repose
Subdomains: Daemon, Devil, Inevitable, Martyr, Souls, Undead
Favoured Weapon: sickle
Symbol: two bronze gates embossed with skeletons; Sacred Animal: lion
Yun is the god of death, judgement, harsh justice, and imprisonment, and the sole evil god of the Twelve. He was not the first god of the Underworld, but seized that role from Erlik, and for a time chained the hungry god within his own trap. Yun believes that the mortal world is a flawed creation and that all mortals are inherently wicked, rising above their base instincts only through great and ongoing effort. He keeps an immense set of scales in his throne room, adding one white seed to one scale for every good soul he judges, and one black seed to the other scale of the scale for every evil soul to pass before him; the brown seeds that represent neutral souls are crushed, and the fine dust split evenly between the two. Junfeng has agreed that should evil every outweigh good, Yun may cast the whole of the mortal world into the blackest pit of the Underworld, wiping the slate clean for a new and more perfect world. Believing that this is, eventually, inevitable, Yun feels no need to tip the scale in his favour. Until that day arrives, he works to ensure that the cycle of death, judgement, chastisement, and rebirth continues smoothly.
Yun appears as a jet-black skeleton, his bones polished until they gleam, wearing a golden brocade robe. When he dons mortal guise, he appears as a stern man in his middle years, wearing the robes of a judge. He may also take the form of a lion, and lions are believed to serve him, representing the pitiless but impartial justice of death.
Yun's grim business and cynical demeanour earn him few friends, though his power is great enough that all must treat him with respect. Junfeng is the closest thing to an advocate or an ally that Yun has. His chief enemies are those gods who interfere with the judgement of souls and their orderly procession from one life to the next: Erlik, Parasra Vrani, and the Pale Mistress. He otherwise cares little for company or divine politics.
Even amid the darkness of night, the power of the illuminating moon has always fascinated you.
Associated Domain: Darkness.
Replacement Power: The following granted power replaces the eyes of darkness power of the Darkness domain.
Moonfire (Su): At 8th level, as a standard action you can shoot a blast of divine moonlight from your eyes, as a ranged touch attack against a single target within 30 feet. Moonfire deals 1d8 points of damage per 2 cleric levels, and the target is dazzled for 1 round per cleric level. Moonfire deals 1d10 points of damage per cleric level against lycanthropes. You can use this ability once per day at 8th level, and one additional time per day for every 4 levels beyond 8th.
Replacement Domain Spells: 1st – faerie fire, 4th – moonstruck (APG), 6th – dream.
Religious Practices, Spiritual Considerations, and Planar Miscellany
Shrines and Temples
Most temples to the Twelve incorporate a number of separate shrines or chapels; if nothing else, a temple dedicated to any god of the Twelve will also include a shrine to Junfeng. A major city, for example, might host separate temples to Hu Dai Liang, Junfeng, Qi Zhong, and Wun Ja, while a smaller town might possess a single temple at which all four gods are worshipped. It is not uncommon for temples to include 'neutral' chapels or shrines which can be quickly set up as places of worship for any god of the Twelve (or, in more permissive temples, the Hundred) at the request of visitors or as seasons, circumstances, and events require.
Temples to the gods of the Hundred tend to be smaller affairs, and each such god generally has his or her own set of shrines. While the cults of Pai Huai and Sen Foon might be welcome to worship openly in settled areas, and shrines to River Eye may be found along the banks of any waterway, the followers of Leng Eryu tend to be more secretive, meeting in hidden shrines or remote locations. Major temples to Parasra Vrani are rare; her followers tend to form small cells of morticians and exorcist-priests who ply their trades without much need for dedicated worship space, though their leave their mark on graves they tend and tombs they protect. Simple shrines to Seongju can be found in almost every home. Cultists of Erlik and the Pale Mistress must necessarily meet in secret in any civilised land; the former prefer hidden, fortress-like mountain retreats or spontaneous conclaves held in swamps, dense forests, or other inhospitable locations, while the latter tend to revere their gruesome goddess in underground caves.
The Structure of the Planes
The people of the Phoenix Empire see their world at the centre of the Inner Planes, with the Elemental Planes arranged around it roughly according to the points of the compass – Fire to the north, Air to the east, Water to the south, and Earth to the west. The sun, rising above the world every day, is a conduit to the Positive Energy Plane; a counterpart conduit to the Negative Energy Plane, called the Mouth of Oblivion, also exists somewhere deep beneath the earth.
The Ethereal Plane, also called the Veil or the River of Souls, connects the Material Plane to the Inner Planes yet also holds them apart from one another – and like a river, a traveller may cross its breadth to a place nearby, or sail its course to arrive somewhere else entirely, though navigation of the Ethereal Plane requires powerful magic. When a mortal dies, the hun and po halves of his soul flow along the river to their eventual destinations. The Ethereal Plane also contacts the Shadow Plane, a gloomy sargasso of lingering regrets, unfulfilled desires, and other spiritual detritus that churns around the Mouth of Oblivion like silt choking a river or debris fouling a drain.
Beyond the Inner Planes lies the Astral Plane, commonly known as Elsewhere, the place where you are, when you are nowhere else. Suspended in this silvery expanse are the Outer Planes, foremost among them the planes of the Divine City, where the gods dwell. The Divine City is also the destination of mortal souls that escape the cycle of reincarnation and transcend to a higher state of being. Elsewhere in the Astral Plane lie the Underworld, Yun's domain of judgement and punishment, and Hell, where evil outsiders – daemons, demons, devils, and others – are imprisoned.
The souls of mortal creatures have a dualistic nature, and are composed of energy from both the Positive and Negative Planes. Positive energy is considered to impart life-force, conscious thought, and creative urges, while negative energy is associated with destructive urges and entropy. These two components are referred to as the upper soul or hun (positive energy) and the lower soul or po (negative energy).
When a mortal dies, the complete soul travels first to Yun, who judges each soul and, if necessary, assigns a punishment appropriate to that mortal's actions in life. The soul is then divided into hun and po; via the Astral Plane, the hun returns to the Positive Energy Plane to be reborn into a new body, while the po rejoins the churning morass of the Negative Energy Plane. The transition is not always a smooth one; a mortal soul with especially strong ties to the Material Plane may linger as a ghost rather than passing to Yun for judgement, while the po, separated from its hun after judgement, may be swept by the currents of the Astral Plane back to the Material Plane where it manifests as one of the hateful dead – a bodak, devourer, mohrg, spectre, wight, or wraith. Other undead likewise arise from the improper migration of hun and po; a ghoul is a mortal whose po lingers in his body even after his hun departs to face judgement, while a shadow is an agglomeration of po-stuff born from eddies and stagnancies in the migration of lower souls through the Shadow Plane towards the Mouth of Oblivion. Necromancers who animate skeletons and zombies typically do so using a fragment of captured po-stuff, freshly plucked from the Negative Energy Plane or mired so long in the Shadow Plane that it is simply an animating force, devoid of intelligence or any but the most vicious desires.
Speak with dead does not call a creature's soul back to its remains; what speaks is merely an echo or imprint of the creature's intelligence, lingering in its bones. Raise dead calls a creature's soul back before it can be reborn into a new body, while reincarnate hurries the natural and normal process of reincarnation along. Resurrection is a more complex invocation of divine power, as it restores life to a creature whose soul has, in all likelihood, already been reincarnated into a new life.
Spirits are everywhere, in the world of the Phoenix Empire: in the earth, sky, and water; in wild animals and wild lands; even in the things people make and use for themselves. For the most part, spirits remain in these things – a spirit only emerges, for the most part, when something has gone wrong. Thus, the people of the Phoenix Empire try to live their lives in a way that shows respect to the spirits around them. As long as needless destruction, corruption, and exploitation are avoided, the spirits generally remain quiescent.
Such spirits, when they do manifest, can take many forms. The most basic of these are elementals of various sorts, which appear in places where one of the elements has been despoiled, or the elements pushed out of balance. Wild places are often watched over by guardian spirits called kami, which emerge when encroachment or destruction threaten their charges. Household spirits may manifest poltergeist-like activity if not shown proper respect, or if allowed to run rampant, without direction or discipline. In general, however, those who strive to live a righteous and proper life by the standards of the Phoenix Empire will also find themselves in harmony with the spirits around them.