Friday, February 9, 2018

Eldritch Americana: Cascrymagog

Swallower of Asia


          (I couldn't find any good pictures that approximated Him, so have some Cave stuff)

The world has undergone significant change since 1890.  For starters, Asia is disappearing.  A new continent formed in the Pacific Ocean and began "devouring" (for lack of a better word) smaller islands.  This was concerning, but the situation rapidly changed to horrifying as it consumed the Philippines and Japan.  Then it landed in Korea, and began chewing its way inland.  It is unknown if this nascent continent is actually destroying the land it consumes, or merely assimilating it into itself.  Regardless, it's advance has been unstoppable.  Humanity is trying desperately to stop it, but so far they have only been able to delay it, and they know this is not a state of affairs that can be maintained forever.

The two main fronts where the continent is being held back is in Siberia and in India.  In the former, the young Soviet Russia is fighting a brutal war of attrition against a strange humanoid foe native to the new continent.  This new foe is largely unknown with inscrutable motives and strategies, but they do possess bizarre technology and Wizards, just like their Communist Foes.  Similarly, the British and their colonial allies have built a massive wall along India's border, and are fighting a losing war to hold onto their greatest colonial treasure, as well as prevent the new continent from devouring the sub-continent.

Secondly, where there were none before, now if you tunnel down far enough, you will find another tunnel.  Where there was only stone, now there are winding tunnels and deep caverns full of savages beasts and limitless hunger.  The Veins of the Earth did not exist before 1890, yet here they are.  Miners did not used to have to carry shortswords and trench spikes on their belts, but now they do.  Luckily for everyone involved, these caves are so lacking in biomass that the underworld only seems to be home to tribes of squatting primitives, and not vast cathedrals of howling, inhuman beasts.  Lucky us.

But these changes are all related.  They all relate to the Earth.  And that is because Earth has a new manager.  His name is Cascrymagog.  Cascrymagog is the God of Earth, underground places, solitude, silence, all things beneath the ground, and stagnation.  He is the reason that miners offer prayers in secret shrines so that they may take his gems and ores, and the reason why fake diamonds are no more popular then real ones, as real ones tend to bring bad luck.  He is the reason why it is more popular to lock the corpses of loved ones in mausoleums instead of burying them.




But Cascrymagog's influence is far more visible then a few changes to wedding gifts and mining practices.  He also created the Mimes, a race of primitive bat-men that emerged from the Veins in 1905.  In America, they tend to live in small tribal bands called Troupes in the uncivilized interior of the country, hunting the resurgent buffalo and other new wildlife with spears and nets.  Those that live in cities tend to work as laborers or guides into the wilderness, and they are more common on the West Coast, though some can be found in the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains.

Cascrymagog's cult organize themselves into hierarchical structures, almost always male-dominated.  These structures are called Troupes, in deliberate reflection of how primitive Mimes lived (and still do, in some places).  In these Troupes, there is usually one always male leader.  His title varies from place to place, but some include Father, Older Brother, Priest, Shaman, Wise Man, Perfect One, etc.  These cults usually live in closed communities near caves, and venture down into the Earth to offer praise to their God, who they affectionately call Grandfather.  And while the teachings of these cults vary from place to place, their are some commonalities that affect them all.

First, Cascrymagog teaches the Troupe-members that they must conform to their community, uphold the traditions and values of their society, and try and halt the forces of history as much as they can.  Change is to be resisted at every turn.  To reject the wisdom of your ancestors is a grievous sin, to reject your past in search of a new future is heresy.  Additionally, to value individuals over a community, or one's rights over the rights of your group is grounds for being cut down or exiled.  Above all, one should be loyal, to one's people, to one's family, and keep their word. 

But that is all that the Troupes agree on.  Some that are composed of primarily humans or other races also say that part of one's religious duty of submitting to the institutions is also loyalty to the nation-state.  Most Mime religious leaders either disagree or don't address the issue.  The concept of a nation-state, much less a nation-state based on something other then a solid ethnic core is a concept alien to them.  The most traditional of these clerics say that the America should be partitioned into regions based on where the various ethnic groups dominate, but this is a belief only common along the most radical fringe.

But while their is some debate among the clerics of Cascrymagog, some things are non-negotiable.  And if a cleric violates some point of orthodoxy one to many time, he can expect to be visited by an Angel, who will demonstrate God's will more fully than he ever could.  This is the primary purpose of Cascrymagog's Angels, to maintain the society and religion he had built.  The three types of Angel Cascrymagog sends are as follows:                         

Angel of Obligation

There are many things a group will ask of its members.  To breed, to work, to fight and die, to support the old.  And while these are not always pleasant, they are necessary.  Thus, Cascrymagog's cult places a heavy emphasis on one's duty to family, tribe and for some, nation.  The Angel of Obligation is the living embodiment of this fact.  These Angels always have names, but is always the name of someone you already knew.  They are Mimes, dressed in robes made of the embryo sacks of all those who never existed so could live.  In their hands they carry books of everyone who ever helped you, and will read off examples if you anger them.  They hate democrats, individualists, and atheists.

Angel of Preservation

Angels of Prerservation exist to keep things from changing.  They are arch-conservatives, refusing to budge on any issue.  They insist that because things are the way they are, they should remain that way.  They work to preserve tradition and prevent change, and strike down those that would worship the false God of progress.  Angels of Stagnation look like giant insects covered in metal or stone plating with liquid time dripping off their claws.  Their venom causes the afflicted to stagnate, slowing their movement and heart rate then finally trapping them in stopped time.

Angel of Community

When more than two people gather together, they become a crowd.  And a crowd has a greater spirit, a greater will then the will of those who compose it.  The Angels of Community work to lead the crowd and the tribes in the direction their fathers would have wanted.  They appear in times of great strife, when order has broken down to restore it, usually by appointing leaders and destroying those who would violate the will of the community.  They are the lowest on the foodchain when it comes to the Angels of Cascrymagog.  

 <DM note>The Angels of Obligation maintain group cohesion, the Angels of Preservation maintain social institutions and traditions, and Angels of Community direct the tribes the way Cascrymagog wants them to go.  </DM note>

Singer of the Song that Ends the World 


And the forces arrayed against the Troupes is many.  Cascrymagog must lean on them hard to maintain order and group solidarity, or else they would fall to his many foes, such as:

The Demon of Solitude

Long ago, their was a predator who hunted the Mimes.  Pale and fleshy, with foot-long fingers and glowing lantern eyes, it was a horror that devoured lone Mimes and snatched children from their Mother's pouches.  After years of this, the Troupes called upon their Grandfather, begging him to deliver them.  And so Cascrymagog confronted the pale things, and they cowered before him.  They begged him to allow them to live, for they were only doing what was natural to them.  So Cascrymagog agreed, but on the condition that they no longer prey upon the Troupes, only on those deemed unworthy, on the disowned and the exile.  And in their desperation, they agreed.  The Demon of Solitude is powerless before a group united in genuine fraternity, but they are quite dangerous to the lone wolf, the exile and the outcast, whom they are granted free rein to devour.
It is said that any they kill will be forced to wander the Veins of the Earth for all eternity, never to know fellowship or fraternity ever again.  This is why in any religious community based around Cascrymagog or in a Troupe of Mimes exile is the worst punishment that can be inflicted on someone.

Demon of Destruction

They prefer to call themselves 'Angels of Progress' but the faithful aren't fooled.   Demons of Destruction bring radical change wherever they go.  They look like moth-men, with thick fur around their necks that make them look like they're wearing fur shawls over their shoulders, broad, multi-colored wings, and compound eyes.  They are brilliant ideas appearing in the dead of night.  They seek out inventors and activists, those longing to make a change but lacking the will or the intellect to do so.  They can bless their victims with unparalleled brilliance in one specific field, and usually do so just to see what will happen.  Demons of Destruction want things to be different.  Different how?  It doesn't matter.  They can see all possibilities, and while any change is good, they prefer the most catastrophic or spectacular.  Essentially, unless someone rolls a 20 or a 1, they are disappointed.  When threatened, they mutate people, infect people with compulsions and cast spells (The flashier, the better).

Demon of Exemption

You owe a debt to society, they say.  You owe it to your parents, they raised you!  You owe your God everything, they created you.  Ridiculous, the Demon of Exemption says.  No one is owed anything, least of all, them.  Demons of Exemption would not describe themselves as such, but they are Randian and Nietzscheian in thought.  They believe in freedom and someone's right to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  They believe in money and power, and nothing else.  They tend to whisper in the ears of firebrands and revolutionaries.  They helped to precipitate the fall of the Czar in Russia, then turned on the Communists later, when the Reds demanded people work in service of the collective.  They are cheerful opportunists, magnetic and charming.  Do not trust them.  When threatened, Demons of Exemption ignore damage taken, wipe a turn from the record (resetting everyone back to the beginning of the round) and pass their unpaid obligations onto anyone foolish enough to agree to pay them.  You must agree to the later, even if you do not know what you are agreeing too.     

Lord of the Underground and Dark Places


                                          (Don't go into the Light)

Along with all that, Cascrymagog also empowers the Cthonomancers and the Necromancers.  All things under the earth belong to him, including those who deal in such coin. He primarily creates Wizards by endowing mortals with some of his godly power to attend to his Tribes and his People, but many Wizards are strong-willed, and selfishly use their gifts for their own benefit, rather then their communities.  Thus, Cascrymagog must chastise them, but even when he pours coals atop their head, he does it out of love.

The Doom of the Cthonomancer

Doom of Fools: For 2d6 hours, you hear the heartbeat of the Earth.  You are desperate to get closer to it, and will usually begin digging straight down with anything you have in you.  If there are caves nearby, you will use those.  If stopped from doing this, you will resist violently.  You will go down as far as you can, until you come to your senses, are stopped by force or die.

Doom of Kings:  As above, but for 2d6 days.

Ultimate Doom: As above, but permanently.  The Wizard will spend the rest of their life wandering the Veins, and going even deeper, looking for the Heart of the Earth.

The Doom of the Necromancer

Doom of Fools.  Become infected with a debilitating disease.  It is non-contagious.  You need to succeed two Con checks to be cured.  You automatically fail your first Con check, as a result of the Doom.  Two successful Con checks to recover.  On a failure, take 1d4 con damage a day.  If your Con hits zero, you die.  Base DC is 15.  Rest, food and sleep can give you bonuses, and adventuring, extra injury, and cold and damp can worsen the check.  Lost Con restores itself a point a day once cured. 

Doom of Kings: As above, but the base DC you need to pass is 18.  The disease is now contagious.  It has also worsened, and does 1d6 Con damage a day.  All other rules still apply. 

Ultimate Doom: As above, but the base DC everyone else needs to pass is 20.  It is now super contagious.  If infected, the disease does 1d8 Con damage for everyone who isn't you.  But you will not need to bother making your check, as you fall desperately ill as soon as you get this disease.  While others can recover, you will die in 1d20+4 hours.  

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