Naderi

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Introduction

Initially a divine servitor of Shelyn, Naderi once nurtured the bonds between couples whose families, cultures, or societies forbade their love. She specialized in inspiring creative ways for them to express their affection in secret. She was particularly adamant about her belief that true love overcomes all obstacles, even death. However, when she appeared to a certain pair of starcrossed lovers, her impassioned words prompted them to jump from a waterfall right in front of her. As they tumbled, they gave thanks to Naderi, and the baffled servitor ascended to true divinity. Ever since, she has grappled with these events while remaining the patroness of forbidden love and romantic tragedy.

THE LOST MAIDEN

Naderi_symbol

Goddess of drowning, romantic tragedy, and suicide

Alignment N

Domains Charm, Nobility, Repose, Water

Subdomains Love, Lust, Martyr, Souls

Favored Weapon dagger

Centers of Worship Galt, Nidal, Qadira, Taldor, Ustalav

Nationality Taldan

Obedience Collect two unblemished white rose blossoms, open to their fullest but without any wilted petals. Stand beside a river and cut the blossoms from the stems, then set them on the water to float downstream. Meditate upon the beautiful perfection of love and the imperfection of a life that would deny it to star-crossed lovers. You gain a +2 profane or sacred bonus on Charismabased skill checks. The type of bonus depends on your alignment—if you’re neither good nor evil, you must choose either sacred or profane the first time you perform your obedience, and this choice can be changed.[1]


EVANGELIST BOONS

1: Watery Souls (Sp) wave shieldACG 3/day, life pactACG 2/day, or water breathing 1/day

2: Depths of the Maelstrom (Su) You do not fear death by water, for you are unafraid of your goddess’s embrace, and you can capitalize on others’ terror of the depths. Three times per day as an immediate action, when you step into any natural body of water, you can cause water within a 30-foot radius of where you stand to churn. You are unaffected by this churning. Any other creature wading or swimming in this water must attempt Swim checks as if the water were one category rougher; wading creatures must attempt DC 10 Swim checks, creatures swimming in calm water must make DC 15 Swim checks, creatures swimming in rough water must attempt DC 20 Swim checks, and creatures swimming in stormy water must attempt DC 25 Swim checks. If the water has a natural current, that current becomes fast moving. If the current was already fast moving, the DC of the Swim or Strength check to avoid going under increases to 15 + half your Hit Dice. This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to your Hit Dice or until you leave the water, whichever is first.

3: Healing Waters (Su) You have learned that the waters can take life, but also that they can give it. Three times per day, you can hold a creature underwater for a number of rounds equal to half your Hit Dice. Each round, as long as the creature is submerged and holding its breath, it is healed of 1d8 + 5 points of damage. If the creature doesn’t hold its breath, it doesn’t receive healing that round. If you submerge a creature and heal it for fewer rounds than half your Hit Dice, it still counts as one use of this ability.

EXALTED BOONS

1: No Rest for the Living (Sp) heightened awarenessACG 3/day, compassionate allyUM 2/day, or lover’s vengeanceISWG 1/day

2: Nothing Left to Lose (Su) The losses you have suffered have made you morose and perhaps even aloof, but also fearless in battle. Once per day as a standard action, you may call out the name of a loved one you have lost. All opponents within hearing distance must succeed at a Will saving throw (DC = 10 + 1/2 your Hit Dice + your Wisdom modifier) or become shaken for a number of rounds equal to your Hit Dice. If you cause at least one creature to become shaken in this way, you gain a +2 profane or sacred bonus (of the same type as that provided by your obedience) on saving throws against spells with the mind-affecting descriptor for a number of rounds equal to your Hit Dice.

3: Final Strike (Sp) Yppou can call down your goddess’s cleansing wrath upon your wretched enemies. Three times per day as a standard action, you can cause a great column of white light to pour from the heavens that acts as a fireball, except the damage is force damage. A successful Reflex saving throw (DC = 13 + your Wisdom modifier) halves this damage.

SENTINEL BOONS

1: Frozen Despair (Sp) icicle daggerUM 3/day, castigateAPG 2/day, or howling agonyUM 1/day.

2: All Who Live Suffer Loss (Su) You channel the despair and grief you have suffered into a cloud of sadness that saps the will of those who oppose you. All foes within a 30-foot, cone-shaped burst are staggered for a number of rounds equal to your Hit Dice, and take a –1 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, skill checks, and weapon damage rolls. A successful Will saving throw (DC = 10 + 1/2 your Hit Dice + your Charisma modifier) negates this effect.

3: Mantle of Tragic Grace (Sp) You drape yourself in tragic glamor, and your longing for rest puts you beyond the reach of mortal harm for a lingering moment. As a standard action, you can activate this mantle, which acts as a globe of invulnerability. You may use this ability for a number of rounds each day equal to your Hit Dice.

These rounds do not need to be consecutive, and you can dismiss this effect as a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.[1]

NDERSTANDING NADERI

Three centuries ago, as one of Shelyn’s divine servitors, Naderi learned that a pair of lovers in Taldor who had long entreated the Eternal Rose for protection were quickly losing hope. She appeared in person to them in the mist of a great waterfall, affirming love’s transcendence over mortal obstacles. Further, to hearten the lovers, she explained that love is one of the few bonds that sometimes endures beyond the end of mortal life, drawing souls together in the afterlife. To her shock, the young lovers took her words quite literally; they embraced and threw themselves into the falls, giving her thanks for showing them a way to truly be together at last.

This sacrifice propelled the dismayed Naderi—who had not intended to drive the lovers to their deaths—into godhood as the patron of suicide, especially for the cause of love. Her ascension burned away those elements of her nature not connected to this area of concern. Most forms of beauty ceased to touch her, though the beauty of love and the allure of tragic romance still called to her.

Much of her capacity for true happiness was left behind as well, leaving her able to experience only bittersweet joy. Terrified of the changes she felt within herself, and believing she had betrayed Shelyn by accidentally turning two of her followers to her own worship and simultaneously driving them to suicide, Naderi fled Shelyn’s realm.

Shelyn pursued, not out of anger, but out of concern, but Naderi eluded her. Over the centuries, the Eternal Rose has repeatedly attempted to reach Naderi, for she feels the Lost Maiden’s nature gradually taking on a darker cast and is determined not to lose another loved one the way she lost her brother Zon-Kuthon. Meanwhile, the dark gods Urgathoa and Zyphus court Naderi, hoping to encourage the flowering of the more nihilistic side of her personality. Naderi herself remains a precariously balanced figure, clinging to the memory of the light and love and beauty she experienced as Shelyn’s servitor, while struggling with a growing conviction that love is only ever consummated in death, and a burgeoning fascination with the aesthetics of suicide. She appears as a dark-haired young woman with large, haunted eyes, clad in waterlogged white garments and carrying a dagger.[1]

THE CHURCH

Unlike the adherents of other neutral divinities, few people worship Naderi openly, or for a lifetime. Most of her faithful turn to her only as a last resort when they feel their love is doomed. Those left behind by a loved one’s suicide may supplicate Naderi to care for the departed one—or, in anger at the abandonment, may beseech the goddess to bar the gates of her realm to the deceased, though such prayers are likely to be answered with signs of the goddess’s displeasure. Naderi’s secondary aspect as a goddess of drowning sometimes leads the parents of drowned children to beg her to shepherd their children’s souls safely into the afterlife, after which they cast white flowers upon the waters in tribute. While this form of worship is seen as legitimate and practiced openly, it is far less common than worship of Naderi as patron of romantic suicide, which tends to be practiced in secret.

Given the desperation of many of those who turn to her, and the stigma attached to suicide in most societies, Naderi has few dedicated clergy members, and even fewer organized congregations.

In addition to favoring her rare and scattered priests and priestesses, many of whom are survivors of suicide attempts or bereft lovers, Naderi sometimes grants spells to inquisitors. Such adherents track down and punish those who attempt to keep lovers apart or who maintain asylums and other institutions where those who wish to leave life behind are prevented from doing so.

Those few organized and public congregations of Naderi focus on providing memorials to the dead, maintaining the graves of those who died for love, and supporting artists who specialize in tragic romance.

Most artists are glad for the patronage, though other artists and organizations that fund such endeavors look down on these offers, considering the projects to be morbid and overly florid. Naderi’s congregations also come under fire from churches worshiping divinities that focus on freedom or justice. These critics point out that while Naderi’s followers condemn laws, social institutions, and feuds that prevent young lovers from being together, they do nothing to eliminate them, instead choosing to extol the hollow virtue of devoting one’s life—and often, death—to love.

Worship services usually involve hymns about love, readings or performances of romantic tragedies, and pledges of undying devotion between young lovers. If a couple requires a marriage ceremony conducted in secret, clerics of Naderi will happily provide it, even if the couple are not worshipers of the Lost Maiden, and the congregation is delighted to witness and help celebrate the clandestine union. Devotees of Naderi are also happy to hide and aid young couples fleeing the wrath of their parents or religious authorities, and take pride in their refusal to give up any information to such authorities—though their eagerness to relate their stories to others often results in information making its way back to the very people from whom the couple fled.[1]

TEMPLES AND SHRINES

Naderi has few known temples, as her worshipers mostly meet in secret, if they bother to assemble at all. Scattered shrines to the Lost Maiden can be found near bodies of water, especially in areas where the desperate can easily drown themselves, such as ocean cliffs, waterfalls, high bridges, and the banks of rivers with strong undercurrents. Her worshipers sometimes turn grave sites and monuments built to commemorate those lost to suicide or drowning into altars to their goddess, though they often encounter resistance and anger from the families of the deceased, who object to the idea of celebrating their loved ones’ deaths.

Naderi’s clergy members often maintain small sanctuaries in their homes; her few temples tend to be hidden in places where lovers gather clandestinely, such as sheltered groves, picturesque hilltops, and abandoned buildings. Popular places of worship are often unobtrusively marked with a white rose, magically preserved at the headiest moment of its bloom, a secret signal of devotion to Naderi known only to her faithful.[1]

A PRIEST’S ROLE

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Naderi_prretre

Naderi’s own ambivalence about her role and nature has led to a great deal of variation in how she is viewed. The most socially acceptable versions of her worship revolve around remembrance of those lost to drowning, and around support for lovers who cannot publicly express their bonds. These forms of worship are generally led by good clerics who focus on offering solace to bereaved families and safe places for persecuted lovers. In rare cases, they may help the devoted find painless deaths, though they reserve such aid for pairs in which one partner has a terminal illness and the other does not wish to go on alone, or to bereaved lovers unable to bear the pain of having lost their partners. In memory of Shelyn’s role as Naderi’s patron, a few such clerics also sneak into Kuthite temples to offer merciful deaths to those being tortured in Zon-Kuthon’s name, feeding the victims an elixir that numbs their pain and gently stops their hearts.

It also heals whatever wounds or deformities the Kuthites inflicted upon them, restoring the beauty of dignity to their bodies.

As Naderi’s nature grows darker, her faith has also begun to attract less virtuous individuals.

Some of her clerics are those who have been unlucky in love, longing for an ideal union but too damaged to believe it can exist between mortals. They encourage young lovers to heights of sentimental passion, teaching them to seek a moment of perfect love in which to die in one another’s arms, explaining that mortal love is inherently imperfect and will inevitably disappoint unless it is made eternal at the instant of ultimate bliss. These more sinister priests work with couples to ensure they die in ways that leave them beautiful, so that when their bodies are found, they may inspire admiration and envy for the devotion they shared and the youthful loveliness with which they will be remembered.

Some clerics, like Naderi herself, attempt to remain balanced between virtue and corruption, giving shelter to persecuted lovers and comfort to those left behind by the death of a loved one, but also preaching that love is the only passion that endures beyond death, and that there is no shame in ending life at the height of its bloom.

A priest of Naderi begins her day by communing with her goddess and praising the glory of romantic love.

As a former divine servitor of Shelyn, goddess of beauty and the arts, Naderi still has a passionate appreciation for aesthetics, and most of her clerics are skilled writers, artists, or performers. They tend to spend much of their time writing romantic tragedies about doomed lovers, painting portraits of young couples in their final embraces, or performing songs and poems on similar themes.

Clerics of Naderi can prepare lesser confusion as a 1st-level spell, crushing despair as a 3rd-level spell, and suffocation APG as a 5th-level spell. Her inquisitors can also learn these spells at the same spell levels.[1]

ADVENTURERS

Worshipers of Naderi adventure for many reasons, but most are driven in some way by the death of loved ones.

Since her clerics are often survivors of suicide attempts or those who have lost lovers, many are eager to flee unhappy homes and even unhappier memories, yet those drawn to the goddess also struggle with a tendency to wallow in and romanticize their grief. These characteristics give them a haunted air, as if they are forever running from something they carry within themselves. At the same time, they often have intense empathy for others who grieve, and the wisest and best of them are able to transmute their own suffering into wisdom and comfort to offer others, even if they never find solace from their own sadness.

Bards, poets, and other artists are often drawn to Naderi as patron of tragic romance, and those who fancy themselves tragedians may worship her in that capacity.

They may set out to investigate deaths involving young lovers, hoping to find inspiration for their next great work. Many lay worshipers of Naderi, however, are teenagers or young adults whose dramatic sentimentality makes them view the idea of dying for love as the highest form of romance. As they grow older and wiser, they tend to turn to the worship of other divinities.

A few lay worshipers are bereaved lovers or parents who have lost children to drowning. Such individuals may leave their homes to set the restless spirits of the deceased to rest or fulfill their last requests.[1]

CLOTHING

Naderi’s worshipers often hide their faith from their families and friends, fearing that those who care for them might attempt to turn them away from the Lost Maiden if they discovered their morbid romantic obsessions.

Therefore, they don’t normally wear any special clothing or tokens that might identify them. Those who have attempted suicide usually disguise any scars from their attempts except when meeting with Naderi’s clerics or fellow adherents, to whom they reveal them proudly.

When multiple worshipers gather, they may wear flowing red-and-blue garments that become heavy when waterlogged, in preparation for the day when they can drown themselves beautifully and surrender to their goddess’s embrace.[1]

HOLY TEXTS

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Naderi_avatar

Naderi’s holy texts are poems, plays, and hymnals glorifying love and extolling the beauty of romantic tragedy.

The Lay of Arden and Lysena: The best known of Naderi’s holy texts, this epic poem tells the story of the two young lovers whose deadly plunge down a waterfall sparked Naderi’s ascension from divine servitor to goddess. Though most readers find it unbearably florid, the text is popular among teenage dreamers and sentimentalists, who pass tear-stained pages to their friends and quote passages to their sweethearts.

The Seven Pangs of Longing: These plays are the work of Rithallen, a Nirmathi playwright whose consuming romance with an unidentified Molthuni noblewoman known only as the Lily of Canorate inspired him to author a cycle of linked tragedies involving arranged marriages that separate young lovers.[1]

HOLIDAYS

Naderi’s church has few holidays, though worshipers commemorate the tragic deaths of lovers on a local level, placing votive candles, flowers, and portraits at the sites where young couples have met their ends.

Winterbloom: This universal holiday is the approximate anniversary of Naderi’s ascension on 15 Kuthon.a Celebrations are typically understated but include readings of The Lay of Arden and Lysena.[1]

APHORISMS

O One of Eternal Purity, this world holds no mercy for us. Take us into your arms, where this anguish has no dominion, and our love will endure beyond death.

—The Seven Pangs of Longing

Most of the pronouncements of Naderi’s faithful are intended to comfort the bereaved, reassuring frightened young lovers that love is stronger than whatever persecution they face and insisting that, unlike other memories and emotions, love endures even after death.

Cut the Bloom at Its Height: Many of Naderi’s faithful believe that if lovers die when their love is most perfect, they take that idealized passion with them into the afterlife.

Darker sects further believe that if they remain alive, their love will become mundane and attenuated.[1]

RELATIONS WITH OTHER RELIGIONS

As a former handmaiden of Shelyn, Naderi is still most commonly associated with the Eternal Rose, and the broken relationship between the two goddesses is a popular subject for operas, poems, art, and theological treatises. Naderi avoids her erstwhile patron out of fear and guilt, and Shelyn’s attempts to reconcile with her are always thwarted by mysterious circumstances that many theologians believe are the work of another deity. The Lost Maiden still bears considerable affection for Shelyn, and is grieved to be the second loss of a loved one that the goddess of beauty has suffered, after the transformation of Shelyn’s brother Dou-Bral into the dark god Zon-Kuthon.

The enmity between Naderi and Zon-Kuthon is heightened by the attempts of Naderi’s clerics to bring the escape of painless death to victims tortured by Kuthite priests.

Naderi fascinates both Urgathoa and Zyphus. Urgathoa approves of Naderi’s insistence that love persists beyond death, emphasizing this agreement between the two in hopes that the Lost Maiden will eventually encourage her followers to pursue the immortality of undeath. Urgathoa’s church also holds that suicide can be a noble end, and appreciates the work Naderi’s faith does in romanticizing it and removing the stigma around killing oneself. Naderi is wary of the Pallid Princess, for most of her doctrine emphasizes the purity and release of true death over the mundane and shadowy stretches of mortal existence, and she does not see undeath as a superior alternative to life.

Yet as Urgathoa offers herself as an elder sister figure who can fill the emptiness left by Naderi’s estrangement from Shelyn, the Lost Maiden’s resistance is softening.

Zyphus’s gospel of nihilism emphasizes the fact that a loved one can be lost to chance at any moment, and he senses that Naderi’s obsession with loss accords with his views. He also delights in sowing discord between other divinities, and knows his open courtship of the young goddess worries Shelyn, spurring him to make his overtures all the more extravagant. Naderi, however, finds the resignation inherent in Zyphus’s nihilism counter to her views, and continues to spurn him.[1]

REALM

Naderi’s realm in the Maelstrom is called the Palace of Love Eternal. It is a place of gardens and groves, filled with clear ponds and streams. Couples who are now forever young stroll along flowery paths, embrace in the shade of wisteriacloaked arbors, and whisper to one another in ornate gazebos. Despite the beauty and apparent peacefulness, there is a sense of restlessness and dissatisfaction to the place, and most of the couples don’t seem content to remain in any of the charming locations for long, roaming from blossom-strewn knoll to sun-dappled clearing and back again as if searching for something they left behind in their mortal lives.[1]

PLANAR ALLIES

Naderi’s divine servants are drawn from the souls of those who revered her in life. The following outsiders serve her and answer her faithful’s calls via spells such as planar ally.

Arden and Lysena (heralds of Naderi): The spirits of the young couple whose deaths triggered Naderi’s apotheosis now serve in her realm, and often appear to comfort desperate young lovers who are kept apart. Arden and Lysena appear as comely teenagers dressed in flowing blue robes, and Lysena’s left wrist is bound to Arden’s right with a red ribbon. They speak in unison and are never seen apart, leading some to theorize their souls somehow melded after death. Indeed, they demonstrate powers similar to those of a single—yet unique and particularly powerful—ember weaver psychopomp; some theologians postulate that they unknowingly achieved their current state thanks to a mysterious plan by Pharasma, even though they actively avoid the Lady of Graves. They leave behind damp footprints and small pools of water as signs that their appearance was not merely a fevered dream.

Phaethor (unique hydrodaemon): Naderi’s newest divine servitor is drawn to the growing dark side of her nature.

It is known to lurk near bodies of water disguised as a handsome young man, appearing to heartbroken young women who have been spurned by their lovers. Phaethor begins by speaking words of comfort, but is a master at convincing a young woman that her lover’s shame and grief over her death will lead him to regret not having appreciated her while she was alive, and that the young woman will be remembered and revered forevermore for her tragic beauty if she simply drowns herself.

Stillheart (unique avoral): An agathion with a long, slim neck, swan’s wings, and webbed feat, Stillheart appears to ease the pain of those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Stillheart can appear male, female, or androgynous, but is always a creature of extraordinary beauty and grace. It never speaks—it merely appears to the grieving and sits silently with them—but its presence seems to encourage the bereaved, and most feel a sense of peace and healing after it departs. While Arden and Lysena are better known among mortals, mostly because Stillheart does not speak to identify itself, the avoral is Naderi’s closest companion, attempting to assuage her loneliness and keep her despair from growing too great.[1]

NADERI AND SHELYN

Naderi’s broken relationship with Shelyn remains a great source of pain to the Eternal Rose, a fact that further shames the younger goddess. This discomfort is reflected in the attitudes of the two goddesses’ clergy. Shelyn’s clergy members are determined to convince followers of Naderi that life holds too much beauty and wonder to leave behind, and that while romance is a great joy, an individual can have many true loves over a lifetime, both romantic and platonic, making no single loss worth dying for. Clergy of Naderi see worshipers of Shelyn as too shallow to understand the despair that comes of being denied the freedom to pursue a true love, though their goddess’s respect for her former patron encourages them to avoid open criticism of Shelyn’s faithful. Clergy members and lay worshipers of both goddesses are avid supporters of the arts. This tend to bring them into contact, though the focus on romantic tragedy insisted on by Naderi’s followers exhausts Shelynites, and the Shelynites’ attempts to get artists to focus on brighter and happier subjects irritates Naderi’s worshipers.

Overall, the more virtuous faithful of Naderi are natural allies to Shelynites, but the strained relationship between the goddesses and the morbid contemplation common to Naderi’s worshipers tend to make members of the two faiths uneasy around one another.[1]

References

  1. 1,00 1,01 1,02 1,03 1,04 1,05 1,06 1,07 1,08 1,09 1,10 1,11 1,12 1,13 et 1,14 Campaign Setting - (PZO9290) Inner Sea Faiths