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The Tanrilar - The Turco-Mongolian Pantheon

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  • #16
    Originally posted by CreepyShutIn View Post
    Fascinating! I have to say, I didn't know about these and now I'm very glad I do. Though one thing I'm particularly curious about is their relationships with other pantheons, especially those they have history with (the Shen, for example) or who share certain similarities (such as the Manitou - both have nature spirits that priests and even ordinary people can interact with).
    Seeing as the Mongols conquered almost all of Asia including invading India, China, and Japan its going to be interesting.


    • #17
      So, I'm back from the weekend with more previews! First up: Titans and Primordials.


      The Tanrilar don’t have Titans, and don’t really understand the concept. (Sometimes, someone tells them that Erlik is surely a Titan. They always deny this - Erlik is their brother. He’s just an asshole who needs the shit kicked out of him fairly often.) Like the Orisha, the Tanrilar consider the distinction between ‘God’ and ‘Titan’ to be essentially nonexistent. In fact, they have some trouble with the distinction between ‘God’ and ‘sufficiently large spirit’. Unlike the Orisha, however, that doesn’t stop them from being aggressive in the fight against Titans. Or anyone else. The concept of Titanomachy makes sense to the Tanrilar in this context: it is a fight against assholes who need a good beating. They’re always up for that. There are plenty of evil spirits to fight - both those that serve Erlik Khan, and those that are just evil spirits.

      They do, however, have Primordials. The Tanrilar look at their progenitors, Kok Tengri and Ak Ana, and place them in a different class of being than themselves - something higher and greater.

      Kok Tengri is also known as Kaira or Kara-Han, though sometimes these are said to be his son, who is also himself. He is the progenitor of all the Tanrilar, the Creator God who is also the Sky. Sometimes, he is portrayed as pure, white goose. Tengri has many servants - both the Tanrilar, and the many lesser spirits, called alps, that serve him. It can be hard to tell these spirits and the lesser Tanrilar apart at times. It is from Kok Tengri that all power and life flows. While the Primordial is often referred to as ‘he’, Tengri is in truth neither male nor female, and never even takes on human form. Rather, Tengri is the unification of male and female, bringing together the duality seen so often in the Tanrilar. He also serves as the main Godsrealm of the Tanrilar, who live within his immense sky-body.

      Ak Ana is something of a mystery even to the Tanrilar. She is the White Mother, and she was not created by Kok Tengri. Rather, she was the waters over which Kok Tengri flew, before the world was created. She is the elder sister of the earth, for the earth emerged from the waters, and it was she who called out to Tengri to create. Thus, while Tengri created the world, it emerged from Ak Ana, and she is the mother of all things. Some say she is Kok Tengri’s consort, and some his daughter, and some both. The Tanrilar know that the ways of such powerful and ancient beings should be left to them. It is known that she loves all things equally, both good and bad, for they all came from the waters.

      Secondly: Pantheon relations!


      On a personal level, many other gods find it difficult to deal with the often bombstic Tanrilar. Bai-Ulgan refuses to deal with most of them directly, except for those whom he finds sufficiently wise, such as Thoth or Orunmila. Even then, he prefers correspondence. Mergen and Kyzaghan are more social, but their highly competitive and aggressive natures mean they often make enemies. Kyzaghan gets angry so easily, while Mergen has little patience for those unwilling to at least try to match wits with him. Still, Kyzaghan’s rivalry with Takemikezuchi over sumo wrestling and the Mongolian yokozunas has drawn much interest, not all of it negative, from the kami and even some of the Shen, while Mergen has cultivated a deep friendship and rivalry with Athena and Tyr.

      Erlik and Yama are staunch foes, due to the fact that Erlik is so often conflated with Yama by some outsiders - and even some human worshippers. Erlik finds this very entertaining. He also tries to make allies when he can, but his nature prevents them from lasting particularly long - his only real kindred spirit is Tawiscara.

      Koyash and Ay Ata often rub other gods the wrong way. Koyash’s extreme arrogance and Ay Ata’s meddling are both difficult to deal with, and when they are together, they become even moreso. However, Koyash respects other sun and flame gods, though the only ones he has a lot of real experience with are Amaterasu, Apollo and Agni. He feels more kinship towards Apollo, of the three. (He tends mostly to feel jealous of Amaterasu, who leads her pantheon.) Ay Ata, on the other hand, likes to believe they get along quite well with everyone, and is not wholly wrong - they just meddle so much that even the gods that like them don’t usually want them around for very long.

      The more elemental deities often have trouble interacting with outsiders on a friendly level, with the notably exception of Od Ana, who has forged a number of cross-pantheon friendships alongside Umay. They trade information fairly heavily with Artemis, Muzzu-Kumik-Quae and Durga. Su Iyesi, as noted, consider Poseidon a lost cousin, to the confusion of most everyone else, and Szelanya gets along with most trickster gods, though she considers herself less a trickster and more the master of storms.

      The Tanrilar have a rather weird relationship with the concept of gender. On the one hand, they believe firmly in gender roles. Men are warriors and athletes, women are diplomats and artists, and both can be scholars. However, they are absolutely okay with the idea the of trans people - most of the Tanrilar are both male and female in different Mantles, and find the idea quite comfortable. They have had to invent a third role, however, for the Amazons whose presence in and around Turkey has been a constant. Amazons, they say, are neither men nor women - they are women-that-act-like-men, a third category. This is rarely said around the Amazons, of course.

      Other Pantheons

      The Tanrilar are one of the most widely-traveled pantheons, having followed one of their greatest Demigods throughout much of Asia, the Middle East and Europe: Temujin, called Genghis Khan, and the societies that followed him. This has given them a rather complex relationship with most of the pantheons they ran into on that journey, however. By the time the Shen were ready to support their people against the invader and had finished all of their paperwork, the Khan had installed himself upon the throne. Even today, the Tanrilar hold official rank in the Bureaucracy of Heaven, and entire divisions are sworn to their service, at least on paper. In practice, the entire Yuan debacle has not really been sorted out. The Shen resent their northern neighbors, treating them with a mix of deep condescension and fear over the conquest. For their part, the Tanrilar tend to either ignore or laugh at this, treating the Shen as wayward relations with strange but sometimes interesting ideas who must, occasionally, be shown their weakness.

      The Yuan attempts on Japan are remembered by the Kami as well - as victories. In each case, the Mongol fleets were turned back by the kamikaze, the divine wind. The Tanrilar admit to their loss there, and have been highly competitive with the Kami in an effort to earn their respect afterwards. There is almost a mutual admiration there in most cases, though some of the Tanrilar resent their failure in the face of the typhoons.

      The Deva and the Tanrilar hold each other in wary respect. The Tanrilar agree on many points with the Deva - evil must be forever fought and defeated, for example - but they claim to have no Titans at all, or even to not understand the difference between Titans and Gods. The Turks and Mongols occasionally invaded India, but only the Mughals stayed, and they turned away from their older gods. This has been a point of contention and resentment on both sides, resolved largely by being extremely polite and occasional brawls. While the Tanrilar rarely hold grudges over losses in battle, that the Mughal Dynasty turned away from the culture of Temujin and Timur, called Tamerlane and still considered one of their great heroes, still stings. Bringing up Akbar around the Tanrilar is never a good idea.

      Relations with the Theoi are somewhat better, though the smugness of the Tanrilar when comparing Alexander or even Caesar to Genghis Khan’s temporal power can be irritating - especially for Divis Iulius, who absolutely despises the Tanrilar. The understanding of both family and ambition, however, makes them friendly enough. The Yazatas are given the same general respect, though somewhat less - unlike the Theoi, the Tanrilar have fought the Yazatas before, and the Yazatas have not really forgiven them, even if the grudge is far less than that between them and the Devas. (The Tanrilar, for their part, hold no grudge. They won, after all, at least in their own minds.) Of the pantheons in the area, the Tanrilar are probably the closest to the Netjer, whom they did not conquer, but instead simply lived alongside when the Turks and Mongols came to the area. They have never been close, but they have been respectful, and rarely fought.

      The Aesir, Tuatha, Teotl, Orishas and Manitou are much more foreign to the Tanrilar, who never met them before the modern world brought them closer. In each case, the Tanrilar see bits of themselves in these other pantheons - but only on the surface level. They haven’t often attempted to go deeper. The Teotl can respect their prowess and dedication, but can barely understand the idea that the Underworld is solely a place to be feared and hated. The Manitou can see much in the way they handle the idea of defense against evil and protection of the spirits of their people, but are often put off by the intense aggression of the Tanrilar. The Tuatha...well, the Tuatha and the Tanrilar are actually quite friendly, as long as neither has to try and understand the other’s culture beyond a surface level. This is also true of the Aesir, though the Tanrilar seem to understand them more easily. All three pantheons are quite direct, straightforward thinkers (except for the members who very much aren’t), and they get along quite well most of the time.

      The Orisha at first enjoyed the fact that another pantheon denied that ‘Titan’ was a meaningful distinction. However, they have grown steadily more upset over the aggression the Tanrilar display to anyone they consider evil, and have come to grasp that while the Tanrilar deny that Titans exist, they are fully in favor of Titanomachy, in the sense of defeating and punishing those they name their foes. They’re just more honest about it.


      • #18
        Mechanics are still being worked on, so don't expect to see too much of those soon - not least 'cause I plan to, when the option comes, try to make this something I can sell via the same sort of thing that, like, Pugmire has. But hey! Let's talk about cosmology!

        The Terra Incognita that most of the Tanrilar inhabit is actually within the body of the Primordial Kok Tengri, who is the Sky. The primary means of reaching the sky is by trees - certain appropriately large and old trees, mostly, and by certain mountains, allowing one to climb into the Tree of Life, whose branches reach the sky and whose roots brush the Underworld, or reach the mountain Otuken, on which the tree perches.

        Kok Tengri
        Kok Tengri is both the Primordial ruler of all things and the sky itself, within which the other Tanrilar live. He is divided into sixteen levels, with the highest being the home of the might Bai Ulgen, and the sun and moon (in the forms of Koyash and Ay Ata) live on the sixth level, while the other gods are spread between them. Pious Tengrist souls rise to the appropriate level of the sky to live upon, and can be found there, as well. Mostly. The area of the sky that the dead inhabit is known as Uçmag.

        The Underworld - Tamag/Tam
        The terrible Underworld of the Tanrilar is below ground, home to Erlik Khan and his many evil spirits. It is known as Tamag or Tam, depending on language, and it is not a good place. All of the dead must pass through the Underworld before they reach their final destination, save for shamans, who may choose to become spirits and live upon the world to guide and protect the holy places. Most, however, do not have to stay. The evil and those who die by illness are kept as slaves by the dark god, forced to labor eternally in suffering to strengthen Erlik’s home and evil spirits. Those who do not meet these criteria may pass on to the sky. Fortunately, those who die of sickness can be saved from this slavery by performance of the proper death rituals.

        Otuken is the legendary capital city of the nature spirits, which is also the home of the White Mother, Ak Ana. It is surrounded by the Silver Forest, an immense forest that is also a jungle, home to many nature spirits, known as Yer-sub, and even the elemental gods Szelatya and Szelanya. While there are Yer-sub all over the land, the Silver Forest is their great home, and at its center is the holy mountain-city Otuken. This is the center of the universe, accessible from the Khangan Plateau. The city itself may actually be part of Ak Ana, the Earth Mother and White Mother, who is sometimes called Otuken. At the center of the city lies the Tree of Life, which the White Mother can be found seated beneath. The Altai Turks say that all of humanity descends from the trees born of the Tree of Life, and the Yakuts say that the tree’s branches reach all the way to the heavens, linking Ak Ana and Kok Tengri together eternally.


        • #19
          and...oh hey, what the hell, have the pantheon virtues
          Pantheon Path of the Tanrilar
          Asset Skills: Athletics, Pilot
          Tanrilar Virtues: Ambition vs Obligation
          The Tanrilar embrace ambition. A strong man seeks to rule. A weak man seeks to be strong. This is good, this is right. Improving your lot is your right, as it is for all people. Unfettered desire to better yourself is encouraged. The problem, of course, is that ambition is fundamentally self-driven, and as Erlik Khan shows, focusing on yourself without paying attention to your obligations to others can be very wrong indeed. You are not alone - all people have family, a clan, even if it isn’t blood. (But for the Tanrilar, it’s probably blood.) You owe them. You owe Kok Tengri, for he gave you life. All men were born to die for Kok Tengri, and equally, as all should be ambitious, so must all fulfill their obligation to better the world and the people in it as well as themselves. But doing everything for others and nothing for yourself - that isn’t much good, because it shows you lack drive and vision, and so your help will probably not be much good.


          • #20
            I'm still not sure how I plan to fully make this work mechanically, but here's the PSP of the Tanrilar.
            Signature Purview: Ongon - Mongolian and Turkic magic center on the idea that the souls of great shamans - not that they’d use that word, given its Siberian origins - and nature spirits can be called on to perform great feats by use of talismans, known as ongon, which the spirits are convinced to inhabit. Calling on these spirits and using mystic dreams to assist them form the core of Tanrilar mystical practices and those of their followers. There are several classes of spirit that range in power, and the smaller ones are often troublesome or even cruel, but very useful when commanded properly. The larger ones take greater propitiation, but tend to be more benevolent once convinced to help. Ancestral spirits tend to be especially helpful as intermediaries, as they understand both human and spirit.

            Ongon is able to call on ghosts and lesser spirits for marvels fairly easily. Typically, these lesser nature spirits are able to control the aspects of nature they represent, though they often are mischievous and troublesome when they see a chance. Tengrist ghosts are typically former mystics and have similar abilities in sacred areas. Unlike other animist spirits, such as the Kami, nature spirits tend not to watch over specific objects unless they are very important, but often have more ability to perform unnatural acts.


            • #21
              So, I've stumbled across some online discussion of a figure named Qormusta, a supposed king figure of the Mongolian gods who has a feud with Erlik and a self-inflicted prophecy of doom. Are you familiar with this character, or was I being duped?


              • #22
                Originally posted by Center-of-All View Post
                So, I've stumbled across some online discussion of a figure named Qormusta, a supposed king figure of the Mongolian gods who has a feud with Erlik and a self-inflicted prophecy of doom. Are you familiar with this character, or was I being duped?
                Qormusta Tengri as king of the Turkic gods does exist as a myth; that myth and setup is largely a syncretic adoption of Indian, Manichean and Zoroastrian beliefs into Tengrist ones. His existence is (relatively speaking) extremely young and recent, possibly dating back to as late as the 1600s or so depending on how one interprets the evidence. So: he probably could exist as a deity, but would not be one used in the version of the pantheon I am presenting, due to my decision to make Tengri himself a Primordial.