Wednesday, February 11, 2015

City of Curses: Icons: The Archdruid

After being sick last week, the blog suffered a bit.  The plan is for me to get back on schedule with things (back to five or six things a week if I can).  I have the two session reports for Crux to post as well.  So far, so good.  This one has been on the back burner for about half a month now.  The Archdruid's Icon article.  Enjoy!

The Archdruid
Aspect(s): Do You Hear the Howls?
Quote: "The Abolethic threat never disappeared.  Their minions still are to be found 
in the dark places: the fomori, the mutants and even the lying doppelgängers.  They 
are imprisoned, but they still strive to destroy all we hold dear."

The Archdruid only became part of the Crux political landscape in the last hundred years.   Prior to that, her position roved through the wild places of Ainesia, Ith and Othebea.  The Archdruid stands as the closest thing to a uniting political and religious figure for all Ursyklon.

Common Knowledge
The Archdruid is known to all as the figurehead of the Ursyklon people.  If not the leader of them, most think of her their leader.  She is also known to control access to the ruins of Gruudl.

Most members of the Church of the Wolf Mother are believed to answer to her as well.  If there any secrets or powers only the Ursyklon know, then certainly the Archdruid knows of them or how to get to them.

The Archdruid also knows secrets about lycanthropy and dark transmutations.  Since all lycanthropes are believed to have been cursed by the Wolf Mother, it makes sense that the Archdruid would now ways to cure or spread such curses.  There are also countless stories about those who crossed the Ursyklon or the Archdruid, only to be forcibly changed into a beast.

The Archdruid has a series of assets known to her: first of all, are the vast number of relics and wealth she can call upon at anytime.  Second, she commands the Dathrog, or Greenknives as her personal guard, as well as many more classes and orders dedicated to the Church of the Wolf Mother.  Lastly, she alone knows ancient Ursyklon Druidic spells, some of which can recreate lycanthropy or cure it.

The position of Archdruid evolved over time.  The Ursyklon conquest had one Archdruid for each clan, perhaps one of the core reasons why their different clans had trouble working together.  Whatever the case, conflicting Archdruids would compete over supremacy, each clan clashing.

By the time of the Othebean Crusade, the Archdruid had become a singular person, often a Ursyklon, but not always.  The cruelties of the Tomasi Empire against the Ursyklon had served only to motivate the Archdruid to act in secret.  When Othebea began its crusade across Ith, the Archdruid helped establish a force to help their efforts, the Green Knights.  Recognition from the Othebean crown would cement and protect the Archdruid- Ursyklon clans saw the Archdruid as their own, granting more gravitas and political power as well.

Throughout the Maru Sea, the Archdruid gained a positive reputation.  Around a century or so ago the Archdruid moved into Crux proper, at the invitation of the Prince himself.  Since then, the Archdruid has lived in the Wolf Quarter.  The position of the Archdruid is elected by Ursyklon during what they call a Druidsmoot, a rare enough event that ends with a new Archdruid.

The Archdruid in the current age has control over the ruins of Gruudl, as well as dozens of other obscure Ursyklon ruins throughout the Maru Sea.  The wealth in various relics and artifacts is mellowed by the fact that almost no one knows how to find or unlock the powers of such items.  The Archdruid, of course, is always looking for those able to help in recovering them.

The Archdruid has maintained a cordial, if not outright peaceful relationship with the Archwitch.  Although not a strong alliance, the two see parallels in how both of them support minority neighborhoods in Crux.  Both also share knowledge on various curses, sometimes providing services to one or the other in regards to specific cases.  They see themselves as peers and sometimes allies in times of danger.

The Archdruid remembers the debt the Ursyklon owe the Prince.  Despite this, the Prince has not exploited or abused the Archdruid or Ursyklon people through that debt.  If anything, the Prince has continued to leave them outside of his conflicts with the Archwitch and the Demon's Orphans.  However, the Archdruid still remains uncertain on the Prince, even if he shares her problems with the Chancellor, his mysterious modus operandi leaves her uncertain of what is goals are: does he really support the status quo, or does the Prince have other motives?

Wealth and privilege is something most of the Ursyklon clans have acquired after their thousands of years on Orphos.  The Banker helps manage that wealth.  Both the Banker and the Archdruid share an interest in protecting and growing that wealth.  Many Ursyklons also use the same banks the Banker maintains in Crux, leaving their financial relationship a natural one.  However, there remains constant conspiracy theories leveled at the Banker for their Ursyklon ties- that Tengrilism and other ursyklon movements might take over the government to advance their own interests.

The Archdruid's long existence as a position of prominence in the Maru Sea has attracted its fareshare of enemies as well.  The Archdruid claims that her most dangerous enemy are the Aboleth.  Without proof of their constant, invisible hand, the Archdruid is sometimes seen as only promoting a religious technophobic agenda.  It is true that the Archdruid dislikes technology.  Any technology borne of eldritch means is her target.  Both the Tinkerer and the Chancellor are targeted by her efforts.  The Archdruid sees the seeds of the Aboleth in them.  Whenever the Chancellor announces a new tech or the Tinkerer's androids are found at a riot, the Archdruid is quick to condemn them.

A more serious conflict for the Archdruid is to be found with the Publisher.  The Publisher doesn't prevent the spread of Tengrilism or any conspiracy theories about it.  The Publisher prints lies about Ursyklons.  To make matters worse, each attempt by the Archdruid to counter these lies is only met with the Publisher finding newer and more complicated libel to concoct against ursyklons.  Unable to stop this public relations warfare, the Archdruid has cut ties with any journalists altogether, refusing to answer questions or give any interviews of any kind.

Plot Hooks
Old Clan Relic: As a reward for some past act, the Archdruid gives an Ursyklon character key information to recovering an missing artifact important to their clan.  However, the artifact isn't what it seems.  To make things worse, monstrous other things observed the Archdruid pass the information along- and now they are hunting the characters, eager to get the missing relic for themselves.

Gear-Trees: Android drones from nearby factories start to go missing.  While working on something else, the character stumble upon a tree that ticks.  They find a Dathrog behind it.  Are they a lone assassin, or has the Archdruid targeted this factory specifically?  When they look into the factory, the characters only find that it spews filth into one of Crux's rivers, pollutions that adversely affect ursyklons.  Do the characters help this dark war, or do they find some other way to end the conflict?

The Crisis: A group of children suddenly acquire lycanthropy, turning into bats in the light of the moon.  The Archdruid refuses to interfere, and the Publisher uses this to stir up anti-Ursyklon riots.  Then, in a very public venue, the Archdruid's flesh falls away, revealing some aberrant shapeshifter wearing her skin.  Now without even the Archdruid, the ursyklon rush to conduct a Druidsmoot for a new one.  Meanwhile, the werebat plague grows, with more and more children taking to the skies.  Can the characters find a solution, or must the children of Crux burn to clean out the infestation?

SIDEBAR: The Lost Archdruids
Because Archdruids can only mass the majority of what they know orally, some secrets have become lost over the ages.  Archdruids that cannot pass along their secrets to successors, who die under murderous or other circumstances cause some things to be lost.  A few Archdruids succeeded in finding ways to pass on some secrets- awakened trees, rare druidic spells and other methods.  But some critical secrets have been forgotten, like the secrets of how the ursyklon once travelled stars, or how to create living starships like those found dead or nearly dead in Gruudl.