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 Lore: History of the Metahel Pantheon

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sleyvas Posted - 08 Jan 2021 : 21:28:10
For those unfamiliar with the Metahel, they're on the continent of Anchorome from the product "City of Gold" in 2nd edition. I've been playing with the ideas of detailing a pantheon of them for a couple years now that would be a confusing mix of "is it norse or is it Faerun's gods" for a while now. The confusion is intended. I wanted to sit down though and start mapping them out for use in 5e, and so I felt I needed to write up something of a history of the gods that leads almost to present day. All of this would have happened thousands of years ago, and if you look, you can see some possible links to Toril's canon history. I present for your enjoyment

The Early History of the Metahel Pantheon

In the dawn of history, the universe was a meeting of cold and warmth in the form of light, which produced a metaphysical earthly realm of slushy rime, mud, and rich ash. Many of the first beings to appear were actually great beasts and spirits of nature. One of the first of these was Eiggdra, the spirit or mind of the World Tree, which appeared when the roots of the world tree began to grow into the well of knowledge. He was soon followed by beasts like Bolthorn the Thunder Bull, Kaelleara a great doe, Audhum-Bhalla the Milk Mother, the Dawn Cock, Harifur the Hornhare, the Night Serpent, and many others. Its said that their feces nurtured the fledgling tree and encouraged Eiggdra to spread its roots throughout the ever warming land. In particular, Kaelleara grew to love the growing tree, which produced sweet fruit to entice her to stay near it, and its said that eventually when she became weak attempting to protect the tree from some unknown menace, Eiggdra absorbed her into himself, reforming her as the horned hamadryad.

While there were many other great beasts, few are remembered by the modern day Metahel, and its believed that many of them are now dead, reformed, or moved to some other area of the universe. Their stories do mention Audhum-Bhalla and Bolthorn in particular however as being intrinsic to the formation of their pantheon. Audhum-Bhalla was noted for surviving by licking the salty rime to gain sustenance, and in so doing she uncovered several beings who themselves were either beasts, giants, and even primordial powers of the elements. How these beings came to be frozen in ice is little known, but there are whispers that there may have been some great war before the universe was covered in ice, and that these beings had been casualties in that conflict. As Audhum-Bhalla roamed the mud and slushy rimelands, she was followed by Bolthorn the Thunderbull, who was known for his tremendous virility and ardor for lovemaking. Occasionally his seed would spill from Audhum-Bhalla's loins to land upon one of these formerly frozen beings, some stories whisper that this was deliberate after she saw the results, causing the being to convulse in seeming shock and return to life.

Many of these beings Audhum-Bhalla nurtured to health at her teat, and some say that the milk mother did lay with the males to enjoy the pleasure of their bodies. One such being was Ueluetue, in some stories appearing as a giant blue-skinned man, and in others as a great seal. From their union was born Boere, who grew up following his mother across the frozen landscape along with several other of her progeny.

However, Audhum-Bhalla was not the only one to share themselves with the newly awakened beings, for the ever randy Bolthorn was very much attracted to the females that his seed awoke. Some believe he deliberately allowed his seed to spill upon their bodies before they were fully freed from the ice so that they could not flee before his passions were released upon them. This of course did not upset Audhum-Bhalla, who welcomed the time when the Thunder Bull would leave her to her own wanderings while he was enflamed by his latest conquest. It was from one such dalliance that Bolthorn did father several children, including the beautiful Bessaela, and her brothers Muspael and Mymier.

There is little known now of Boere and Bessaela, and what little is known seems to disagree, as their forms are often talked of as being different in different stories. Still, the most common stories state that Boere resembled a being most like a satyr, shatjan, or minotaur, while Bessaela appeared to be a humanoid female possessing the lower half of a cow, goat, deer, or other hooved mammal. It is said that the older Boere fell deeply in love with her, resulting in four children, Asagrimmr, Wiha, Wili, and Khrohm. Little is known today of Wiha and Wili, for they supposedly died long ago defending their kin, but Khrohm still lives, and is said to work deep in the earth at his Duhmsforge, attended by dragons and beings whose descriptions resemble dwarves but possibly lack beards.

Asagrimmr however went on to father many sons and daughters, for he was as virile as his grandfather Bolthorn the Thunder Bull and just as intent on sharing his gift with as many females as would have him. Asagrimmr took the name All-Father, and to his progeny he gave the name “the Asagrim”. Asagrimmr took to his bed women of all kinds, being human-like, giants, genies, fey, and even fiends, but he only took one woman to wife, his queen Friggya. Friggya did take the moniker the All-Mother, for Asagrimmr may have loved many different women, but he claimed all of his children for his own and brought them home for her to raise.

As his children grew, becoming great and powerful gods in their own right, so did his Asagrim come into conflict with other beings and pantheons. In these conflicts, his sons would all prove their heroism, but none was as much feared by their enemies as Thoros. As is often the case, these conflicts would leave behind orphaned children, and such was the All-Mother's love of children that she commanded Asagrimmr that he must never leave a child motherless as a result of his actions. Asagrimmr knew that this was one fight that he could not win, and so the Asagrim grew as the All-Father brought new children home. One such child was Valigor the Runtborn Giant, whose antics would land the gods in more than one situation, but whose keen mind also managed to free them from such as well.

However, Asagrimmr wasn't just known for his battles and his wanton ways with women. He was also known for his willingness to give his all for knowledge, sacrificing anything necessary. In one instance, he sacrificed his own eye in payment for a drink from the well of knowledge, dropping it into the water that the well might learn to see as a god in return. In return, he gained the ability to see through the eyes of others and began to consider things from perspectives beyond his own.

In order to gain an understanding of runecraft by watching the runes growing upon the bark of the world tree, Asagrimmr used his own spear to sacrifice himself by hanging himself from the world tree for nine days and nights, taking no sustenance but that which the tree itself did provide him while he did water its roots with his own dripping blood. It was during this time that a young Thoros watched over his father as an adolescent antlered girl watched them and listened curiously from the nearby branches. When Asagrimmr's wounds began to fester, this young girl, known as Sifya, called for a squirrel named Rititisk to bring her leaves and herbs that she might tend to the old man's wounds. When at last Asagrimmr declared the awakening of the knowledge of runes within his mind and prepared to leave, it was Sifya who asked if she could return home with them. Asagrimmr was not one to pass up adding a new youngling to his brood, and he saw how hotly her child cheeks burned whenever she looked upon Thoros. Unfortunately, his son was rather thick and did not appreciate the attention of the young girl, and his head was soon turned by a warrior giantess who joined with them on their way home. Thus, though many see the main gain from this story as Asagrimmr's knowledge of runecraft, when in truth the greatest gain to the Asagrim was the gaining of a jealous Sifya who silently vowed that she would become a greater shieldmaiden than the giantess and thus draw the eye of Thoros to herself.

The centuries passed and the Asagrim found themselves at odds with another tribe of powerful immortals known as the Faernir, for the wife of the chieftain of the Faernir, the beautiful Alaeralie, had been taken by the All-Father's leader of berserkers, Skaragos. Thoros fought courageously beside his thrill seeking lover Yaernsacsa, but his bravery was challenged by the wise battle counsel given by the Lady Sifya to her adoptive father, Asagrimmr. In fact, so brilliant were her battle strategies, such was her skill in battle, and so grand her beauty that the chieftain of the Faernir, Faeyordon, sued for peace with the All-Father. He offered himself, his two children, and several other tribesmen as hostages, but in exchange he asked the bride-price of the hand of Sifya. The offer was definitely in favor of the Asagrim, such that Asagrimmr agreed after consulting with his devious advisor and foster son, Valigor. Sifya, though caught off guard by the unexpected proposal, was nonetheless flattered by the attention of Faeyordon, and she turned her attentions from the war room temporarily to explore a new aspect of her immortality.

Faeyordon's children, Faerthandir the Lightlord and Eldunna the Keeper of the Golden Groves, were well received by the Asagrim, and they showed much more love for their new stepmother versus their last stepmother, the deceitful Alaeralie. Several of their fellow Faernir,who possessed the ability to change into ravens and wolves, soon became close agents of Asagrimmr as well. Thoros, who had become accustomed to his vying against the brilliant shield maiden for honors on the field of battle, slowly came to realize that something had changed and he missed the challenge. Still, he had Yaernsacsa's alcohol fueled attentions to distract him, and the pair of them travelled the mystic realms getting into one bit of trouble after another. Soon his foster brother Valigor had gotten into mischief and started a new conflict with a group of raider giants who flew an earthen citadel ship capable of traversing both sea and air. Valigor had stolen an elemental water fowl capable of laying metallic shelled eggs of valuable metals and minerals to pay a debt to his foster uncle Khrohm Duhmsforge. While Thoros cheered the opportunity to fight new giants, his lover was torn, for the leader of the giant raiders was her own father. In the end, Hemdahl the Defender warned that the raiders had come to reave their homeland, and since they had no wall to protect themselves, he led himself and his brothers Anachtar and Thoros to protect Asagrimmr in his throne room. Thoros was ultimately forced to slay his lover's father in order to protect his own, and this was the end of their relationship.

While the god of thunder and lightning grew sullen and surly with the loss of his lover, the rest of the Asagrim rejoiced another resounding victory. Valigor was celebrated for bringing such a great present home, and the primordial goose was set to producing many offspring fathered by the Dawn Cock. In return, Faerthandir would use his golden-furred foxibou mount to pull the sun into the morning sky while the Dawn Cock sired new young . Soon All-Mother Friggya was seen leading lines of bright feathered young goslings all throughout the home of the Asagrim. Hemdahl as well had rescued a new bride for himself from the holdings of the raiders, and they were soon enjoying a wedding feast. Sifya became lost in the joys of motherhood, for she delivered a babe named Yuellar to her husband .

Still, despite the successful defense of their home, Valigor warned Asagrimmr that surely they could not let their enemies get so close again. Surely, they must create their own separate realm and protect its entrances. His words were soon echoed by Hemdahl, who had long warned his father, but he had been rebuffed and told it would take too much power. Valigor assured the All-Father that he would find someone capable of the onerous task, and Asagrimmr threatened him that he had best not fail. Several weeks later, Valigor presented a magical craftsman before the throne who offered that he could grow a mystical shell around their realm and float it out across the astral sea, but he would require the hand of the beautiful Eldunna in return. Seeking the favor of her lord, Alaeralie leaned into Asagrimmr's ear and whispered “watch him lord, for he is a deceiver before you, for he is no simple craftsman but rather a great and powerful eldritch giant”. At this, Asagrimmr called upon his brother Khrohm and his fosterchild Valigor the Runtborn Giant for counsel. All agreed that they must give this eldritch giant a timetable that he could not possibly meet, to which the hidden giant agreed, but only if he could have the aid of his stag mount. Congratulating themselves on their ingenuity, for surely they could finish the construction once the heavy lifting was done, the gods quickly agreed.

The gods did not know though that the giant's mount was a creature resembling a caribou grown of limbs, leaves, vines, and roots whose continually growing wooden antlers could almost darken the sky. When Sifya saw him, she knew it was her elder brother, Raelkath Maneeboughs the Great Wildleaf Stag. The goddess grew concerned, for assuredly her brother could grow a wood between worlds around the realm, and she did not wish to lose her foster daughter whom she dearly loved for her kindness and generosity. However, she could not kill her own brother either, so she went in secret to the All-Father and Valigor and told them of her fears. Threatened with death at the hands of Thoros, Valigor soon came up with a plan, and the next day a snow white doe in heat appeared and the Great Stag was drawn away before the Wood had grown to completeness. The giant, shamed at being outmaneuvered threatened to set the Wood aflame if they would not give him Eldunna before trying to grab her up and steal her away. But her father, Faeyordon, drew his blade and charged the thief, heedless of his own life and removing its leg before he himself was felled by its mighty mattock. Sifya wailed in anger and grief for having failed to save her husband, and seeing someone as hurt as himself by lost love, Thoros leapt upon the giant with a savagery unseen before by him. He tore the giant limb from limb, glorying in its blood shed, and yelling to Sifya that he would give her revenge. When it was over, the thunder god grabbed up its head and knelt before the goddess of skillful battle, asking that though he knew her heart to be severed in twain much as his own, could they not seek to join their own hearts together and thus heal each other. Without even a moment's thought she agreed, for though she would always miss her husband, she knew she loved Thoros still.

Eldunna, saddened at the death of her father, but always joyous at the sight of young love, immediately rejoiced and soon after giving her father a proper and somber burial, the gods were preparing for a wedding feast. The new couple were loud and exuberant in their lovemaking, Sifya declaring her want to give her new lord a son, and so it was that Faerthandir knew immediately what he would give his stepmother as a wedding present. Faerthandir used his magics to awaken Thoros' seed, but in seeking to make sure that it worked, he awoke Thoros' seed in his former lover's womb as well. Thus were the thunder twins conceived.

Many are the legends that came between this time and the time of endings foretold by Asagrimmr and the fates, but this is not that story. When the armies of darkness and the dead rose up to join those of the giant hordes, it was the Asagrim and the souls of the valiant dead that stood with them to protect reality from destruction. However, despite all prophecy, the gods found that not all things are preordained when, as the two armies stood ready to join in battle, suddenly one of the leaders of giantkind found himself spitted upon a spear... a spear delivered by a duplicate of himself, Valigor the Runtborn Giant.

Soon after, the ranks of the Asagrim's enemies were being ripped apart by one another, as the powers of Valigor and his beloved Alaeralie the Deceptress wreaked chaos and deception amongst their supposed allies, and the two gods supped on the souls of the fallen. The two gods had been tasked with inventing the prophetic lie of the time of endings at the command of their lord, Asagrimmr and at the advice of his chief strategist, Sifya the War Mother. They had used the lie as a means to gather their many enemies together on one battlefield and turn the tables upon them in a way that they least expected. The All-Father commanded his armies to charge upon their confused enemies, and though he and many of his fellow gods fell that day, they were the victors.

This is how the Asagrim came to name Thoros their new All-Father and Sifya assumed the title of War Mother. Though many quake when they hear the thunder at Thoros' anger, all know it is but a fool that threatens the lives of the Asagrim, for none dares challenge the viciousness of the War Mother in protecting her brood. ALL GLORY TO SIFYA, QUEEN OF THE ASAGRIM AND WAR MOTHER TO ALL!!
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sleyvas Posted - 12 Jan 2021 : 13:24:43
Originally posted by Seethyr

I love the background and the lore seems like the basis of its very own campaign. I don't have the map near me, but I know there is a continent west of Maztica called something with an M? Anyway, have you considered the Metahel origins are from those lands?

Also, how do you plan to integrate this large group of gods in with the Faerunian deities or are they all separate completely? That's one issue I have with the Maztican deities and to a lesser extent the spirits from Anchorome. Despite them both being canonical, I never understood how Qotal fit in with a crystal sphere with such clear cut origin stories. My best guess is that the Maztican gods are interlopers (that's how I am running them) similar to the gods of Mulhorand and Unther. The Anchorome spirits are just local spirits that came from the land and Spirit Realm.

I've got a whole thing written up that basically says "are these the same gods as Faerun, Mulhorand, the spirits of Anchorome, etc???" That's to be left vague and interpreted by each DM. Maybe they are the same exact being. Maybe totally different. Maybe they're an aspect of the god that's "broken off" to be a separate personality so at one point they may have been the same being but aren't anymore. There will be certain ones that are definitely the same (Bhalla and Audhum-Bhalla for instance), which will call into question .... is Bhalla really Chauntea or is the Faerun pantheon trying to invade Rashemen as well and oust the local spirits?

Oh, and regarding the spirits of Anchorome and these Metahel gods, I'm definitely drawing linkages there too. For instance, there's a Metahel spirit of rain, thunder, and war (Sho'tokunungwa) with a single horn. He's a spirit with one horn. He's got two servants who are "the war twins".

Thoros has a great grandfather who is a bull and a great grandmother who is a cow.... maybe he had a horn chopped off when he was fighting in the battle that Sifya/Asagrimmr/Valigor/Alaeralie engineered together to eliminate their enemies. He's a god of rain and thunder who leads his people in war. His wife is "the War Mother". He has two children "the thunder twins".

Now take into account the idea of another "thunder and war god" of the Untheric Pantheon. His name is Ramman, and if you look at his real world representation... he's often represented as a bull.

I don't have a problem of these gods appearing in lesser avatar form (i.e. possessing a willing mortal), and they may have in the past appeared in the forms of some of the more obscure "great spirits" and used another name to a different people. Similarly some of the primordial animals of this "pantheon" would make great spirits. For instance, the "Dawn Cock" as a mixture of giant rooster and pheasant... the "night serpent" having ties to the Uktena snakes with antlers that you created..... Raelkath Maneeboughs and "The Germinator"/Alosaka spirit also fit quite well together since I've made Raelkath appear as a gigantic wildleaf stag rather than yet another treant god (especially when you note that Alosaka also has two horns). Kaelleara the Horned Hamadryad could fit as well the idea of Moon Mother as "The Horned Moon" who is a protector and huntress of game... though I'd personally make her true neutral and not LN. Sun Youth and Faerthandir could easily be misconstrued. Then there's the spirits of Summer, Spring, Autumn, etc.. that get little writeup. Could Spring be Eldunna, goddess of springs, rivers, and keeper of groves? Could Fall be Balanis the Honey Queen, the bear goddess wife of Magnaer? So, the Metahel may believe that half or more of these great spirits are just another name for a god in their own pantheon and respect them as such.
Seethyr Posted - 12 Jan 2021 : 01:19:11
I love the background and the lore seems like the basis of its very own campaign. I don't have the map near me, but I know there is a continent west of Maztica called something with an M? Anyway, have you considered the Metahel origins are from those lands?

Also, how do you plan to integrate this large group of gods in with the Faerunian deities or are they all separate completely? That's one issue I have with the Maztican deities and to a lesser extent the spirits from Anchorome. Despite them both being canonical, I never understood how Qotal fit in with a crystal sphere with such clear cut origin stories. My best guess is that the Maztican gods are interlopers (that's how I am running them) similar to the gods of Mulhorand and Unther. The Anchorome spirits are just local spirits that came from the land and Spirit Realm.

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