Saturday, November 22, 2014

Riffing Pusad II: Thaumaturgic Boogaloo

So my copy of The Tritonian Ring and Other Stories has shipped, and should hopefully be here before Thanksgiving, which will leave me plenty of time to read (I've taken some time off work this week upcoming, yay).  In the mean time, let's keep riffing off the Wikipedia article for the Pusadian Cycle:

Pusad is described as "rife with gods made real and potent by the belief of their devotees."  This sounds tailor-made for a game in which anyone playing a cleric is told "here, just make up whatever god you want, there's no real set pantheon." But I think if I were to run something in this faux-Pusad, I'd almost prefer to run it with Stormbringer or Runequest instead of any iteration of D&D - I'm not sure why, but for an all-human sword-and-sorcery kind of world I think I'd rather run it in Stormbringer then try to shoehorn the setting into D&D.  I like the idea of "gods" that are indistinguishable from demons - or from aliens, for that matter, and have priestly magic, wizard magic and demon magic all be the exact same thing.

Maybe this faux-Pusad has tiers of godly entities of varying power levels, ranging from cosmic forces that everyone respects -- for this tier, I'd grab an idea out of the d20 Call of Cthulhu book suggesting that Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath and Yog-Sothoth form a sort of weird Trinity - Shub-Niggurath represents Creation, Azathoth represents Destruction, and Yog-Sothoth adds Time to the mix, so that Creation and Destruction don't simply instantly cancel each other out.

Second tier would be the Great Old Ones influencing the subconscious minds of men - here you've got the temples dedicated to Tulu, Nug and Yeb, Yig, Tsathoggua, maybe some oddballs like Nyogtha.  Ithaqua might not be a bad option given that this civilization is rising up in the wake of the last Ice Age, a dark god of cold and starvation who's given worship and sacrifice to keep him away.

Third tier would be the Gods of Man - entities that human imagination had given life to.  A great example of this would be Yhoundeh, the Elk Goddess worshiped by Eibon's persecutors in Clark Ashton Smith's stories.  This tier would be populated by gods representing personifications of various animal species, petty gods in human form with portfolios such as war, love, craftsmanship, the sea, the sky, death, etc.  Some of these might be demons that have put on a respectable face and pulled the wool over worshipers' eyes.

Moving on...

I'm intrigued by the references to islands off the coast of the mainland: "To the west were the islands of the Hesperides, including the island kingdom of Ogugia, beyond which lay the small island continent of Pusad, home to a patchwork of small states, of which the strongest was Lorsk. To the south of these were the Gorgades, a group of three isles inhabited by corsairs."

The Hesperides, in Greek mythology, were the nymphs that tended to and guarded the Golden Apples  sacred to the gods and necessary to maintain their immortality.  "Ogugia," here, takes its name from Ogygia, the island home of the sea nymph Calypso in the Odyssey.  Alternatively, Ogygia can be derived from Ogyges, a mythologically ancient king associated with the Greek version of the World Deluge myth, and "Ogygian" as an adjective can be taken in the same way Lovecraft's old standard, "Cyclopean" can be - as a word meaning primeval, ancient, and gigantic.  Maybe the Hesperides of faux-Pusad are inhabited by a cult of immortal (vampire?) women, renowned for their soul-shattering beauty, and Ogugia is their "capital" or cult center, guarded by tribes of Harryhausen-style giant Troglodytes.

Pusad I'm still spinning my wheels on.  We'll come back to Pusad and its patchwork kingdoms...

But the Gorgades to the south? In legend the Gorgades were a island tribe known for their extra-hairy women, and Portuguese navigators initially applied the name "Gorgades" to the islands of Cape Verde in remembrance of the island of the Gorgons in Greek Myth, at least according to Wikipedia.  The islands are also sometimes associated with the Hesperides.  And now they've got Corsairs on them.

So maybe the Corsairs are newcomers, invaders - the dregs of the rest of the civilized world pooled in one low spot and forming some sort of Bronze Age Tortuga for themselves.  The hairy women are the indigenous inhabitants of the Gorgades, either throwbacks to an earlier form of hominid or some sort of fantasy "beastman" (beastbabe?) race.  The corsairs occasionally take these women as slaves, but only rarely as the beastbabes are ruled by a "Smooth Goddess" -- an outcast Immortal/Vampire Woman from the Hesperides who has set up her own cult system here, and takes offense at the patriarchal oppression of her chosen people, expressing her wrath by leading the beastbabes on violent raids against corsair-town or blasting it with the occasional bolt of arcane lightning.  Of course she's taught the beastbabes how to smelt bronze and forge weapons and armor...

No comments:

Post a Comment