Friday, September 8, 2017

Campaign Design - The Lords of Hell: Abonde


Mother of Giants; The Blood Witch; She Who Whispers at Night; Demon Mistress of Giants, Trolls, Hags, and Witches

Alignment: Neutral Evil.
Domains: Blessing of Abonde, Blood, Breeding, Flesh, (Hag), Night.
Summon Monster: Abonde's clerics and favored souls can summon fiendish, ice, magma, ooze, and smoke creatures using summon monster spells.
Symbol: A twelve pointed star.
Favored Weapon: "Corrector of wayward children" (scourge).

Abonde is the matriarch of the entire giant race. She is acknowledged as the mother of Iku-Tyrma, Lug, and Surtan, although the identity of the father (or fathers) of her children is left somewhat vague in the legends. Some tales maintain that each of her progeny was fathered by a different husband, and that when Abonde became bored with them she simply cooked and ate her mate. Other stories simply leave out any mention of fathers for her children. The troll sages maintain that Abonde simply brewed her children in her witch's cauldron, seasoning the infernal soup with her own blood to give them life.

Abonde always appears as an old crone, although whether she is some form of giant, troll, or hag varies, usually depending upon who is telling the tale. She lives in a hut on a mountaintop that is named Varajit Munte whose location is never specified, but it always described as being "far, far away" and is almost always brewing something in her great cauldron, usually a potion or other magical brew, but sometimes merely a stew or soup. Her hut is decorated with twelve heads of long-dead giants - some maintain they are the heads of her dead husbands - who often provide running commentary in stories in which she appears, at least until she scolds them into silence.

In folklore, tales involving Abonde follow a fairly predictable pattern - unwary travelers come across a friendly old woman in the wild, are taken in by her kindly nature, and then find themselves trapped in her larder as she prepares to have them for supper, usually planning to cook them in some interesting manner. These tales almost always end with Abonde's plucky adversaries tricking her in some ingenious manner (often with the assistance of the decapitated heads in her hut) and making their escape. The versions of these tales told by giants are somewhat different, with ungrateful interlopers imposing upon Abonde's hospitality and then committing some unforgivable offense that requires the Mother of Giants to provide helpful "correction". In folklore, Abonde raids people's homes at night at the turn of the seasons, looking for something tasty to eat. If she is not left a suitable offering, she is said to kidnap sleeping children for her stew pot.

In the mythology of the giants, Abonde is a source of wisdom and magical aid. Giant heroes often travel to consult her on important questions, or she shows up to bestow some magical gift upon a mighty giant to enable him to overcome some seemingly impossible task. Many of the most popular stories about Abonde show her intervening to stop quarrels among her fractious children - most giants find the image of Abonde taking Iku-Tyrma and Lug by the ear and scolding them like impudent children to be hilarious. On a more practical level, giant folklore holds that Abonde whispers into the ear of worthy giants and hags at night, imparting her wisdom to them. On a more gruesome level, giants maintain that this wisdom is then always within their heads and may be preserved after death so long as the head is properly preserved, leading to her priestesses proclivity for creating speaking circles.

When a giant regarded as noteworthy dies, Abonde's priestesses endeavor to decapitate the body, invoking the blessings of Abonde. This brings the head to a half-alive state whereupon it is carried to one of Abonde's shrines where the head is hung with the heads of other venerated giants. there they linger, not dead, but still not quite alive. Giants who see knowledge and mystical advice carry gifts of feed and drink to these suspended heads, trading them morsels in exchange for aid, spellcasting, and knowledge. The heads act as oracles. There are always at most twelve heads in a speaking circle. If a thirteenth head is brought to it, the eldest head shrivels and dies.

Abonde has few non-giant worshipers, mostly witches who live on the edge of society and look to her for wisdom and magical guidance. She is extremely popular among giants of all types, regarded as the well-meaning yet stern grandmother who loves her children but is not afraid to use the lash if they get out of hand. Hags of all type hold her to be their personal patron, and she is especially beloved by trolls who claim that their regenerative abilities are evidence that they are her most favored children.

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