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Shepherds of Annwn [Grave Robbers]

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  • Shepherds of Annwn [Grave Robbers]

    Witches of the Mountain

    [a bloody sickle above the half smashed canine skull]

    There are many mysterious places in the world- lands where the boundary between the day and light is not as sharp as usually. Places where the shadows mingle together, and things crawl inside of them, whispering with their endless hunger. People know they should stay away from those place, and they make their own laws and complicated taboos all meant to say one thing: this place is forbidden. Yet, just as people fear those lands, they are also lured into them- and with a split of a second, the shadows move, snatching the reckless mortal and drag him deep into the darkness, never to be seen again. Many lost sheep have fallen to the jaws of the darkness. No wonder certain people decide to become their Shepherds.

    The beginning of that group has started near one of those places- the mountain called Cadair Idris. Many legends has surrounded the mountain- it is a source of both inspiration and madness. It is the throne of a giant, made to watch the stars. The great kingdom of Camelot has ruled there...

    It is the land of the dead, too.

    Sometimes, during moonless nights, when all life are silent, a voice may be heard- a distant howl, which gets closer and closer. Cadair Idris is not just a mountain- it is a gate, and like any good door it can be opened from both sides: things may get in, things may get out, and one of the things who usually get out of that gate is an ancient and terrible power, one which has no form or name, one which is search for both the living and the dead and drags them kicking and screaming back from where it came from to feast upon their very existence. Those are the Cwn Annwn, led by Gwyn ap Nudd the Hunter, ruled by King Arawn of the Underworld.

    In order to block the influence of the Otherworld, a group of small witches and druids banded together- order must be kept, life and death must go with the cycle. They walked through the night and put a guard over the mountain, turning away dreamy bards who search for muse and small children who looked for the faeries. They chased people who breached their defense and rescued them from the dangers of the mountain. And when all things failed, they fought against the shades of the dead who tried to claim the living as their own and sent hem back to Annwn- for their presence was like a whistle to its Hounds.

    While the mountain was their primary concern, any such dark place has became their- from marshes who lured the living to drawn in their waters and become light to forests who whispered fear and despair to those who traveled them so their flesh would feed their roots, the Witches made a guard to stop the darkness from spreading. They studied the secrets of life and death, of flesh and spirit. Yet, no matter how far they went from the mountain, they never forgot their duty- they could have heard the howl of the Hounds, always approaching, always hungering.

    While the order never had big numbers, it always kept recruiting new members. While under the threat of both the shades they hunted and cults who wanted to take over those "gates", the Shepherds of Annwn remained strong, and even when the faith in the old gods collapsed and was replaced by Christianity. Through the course of history, they barely get out of Britain, and even then they remained mostly at Wales. Yet, things has changed when the modern era took place- empires fell from grace, while others rose from their ashes. Things which looked like they would never change changed at once. Unions were established, the whole world was tied together. For the outcast Witches of the Mountain, it meant nothing- except of one. They discovered that there were many other "gates" around the world, places from which the Dead may get out, and the Hounds in their footsteps, and if the Witches won't come after them, it would be only a matter of time before the Hounds would start the hunt.

    People are getting eaten by wolves- and so their Shepherds must go and protect their flock, wherever they may be.

    0- you have joined the small compact and learned their secret rites. You may buy dots in the Blood Rites Endowment, and you have an Honorary Rank of 1 when dealing the the dead. You also suffer from the Curse of Arawn Condition.
    000- you have guarded your chosen site for years or banished dread horrors back to the Underworld, and may even fought against one of the Hounds face to face. As a result, you no longer know fear. You may get +3 modifier to any roll made to protect you against a supernatural Fear effect, which includes like the Disquiet or uses of Nightmare. Your Rank also rise to 2.
    00000- You have spent with the dead for so long that you know them more than the living. You get Unseen Senses (Ghosts), and your Rank rise up to 3.

    Endowments: Blood Rites (1-5, special)
    In order to banish darkness, you need light. In order to put down fire, you need water. It is the same for ghosts- if you want to turn away death, you need life, and what better conduit for life there is but blood?

    Blood Rites has 2 different uses. The first is about protection. That use is bought in 1-5 scale as a separate merit, called Blood Circle. By inflicting herself 1 level of Lethal Damage, the character may roll [Blood Circle+Occult] and draw a line with her blood. Success means that only those who are alive may cross that line. Exceptional Success means that not only the dead may not pass that line, but they actually take damage from trying, suffering one level of Bashing Damage per dot in Blood Circle. Failure means that nothing happens, while Dramatic Failure would turn the place even more hospitable for shades, giving them +2 for their Manifestations. By ST's decision, the Blood Circle merit may be bought against other creatures.

    The second use is called Territory, which is also bought between 1 to 5. By marking a place with her own blood and name it as her "sacred site", she may draw power from her connection with the land. That connection must be reestablished one week per dot in Territory, which is represented by inflicting a level of Lethal Damage. Once she has a single dot in Territory, she may start buying Dread Powers. While there is no upper limit on their number, in order to use them she must be in her Sacred Site and pay one level of Bashing Damage per dot of that Dread Power in order to activate it. In case the Sacred Site by itself is a "gate" (usually an Haunt, but may also be things like an Hallow or a Loci), she may not need to damage herself in order to activate those powers, but it is still limited to her Territory. The character may have a number of Sacred Sites, but each needs to be bought as a separate merit and supervised individually.

    Condition: Curse of Arawn (Persistent)
    While the Shepherds know many things about the Hounds and Annwn, one thing they don't know- they are cursed, each and every one of them. The Hounds are shapeless beings made out of fear and hunger. They don't come from the Underworld, as some Witches believe, but from another place, a deeper place... a lower place. That place, an empty void which is both vaster than the universe and small than a dot, contains nothing (or, at least, that was once the case), and the only thing which "exist" there are the ever hungry Hounds and the darkness which guides them, an entity (if that word may even describe it) called "Arawn".

    As beings without real form, the Dogs of the Underworld may not exist for too long in the "real world". They may roam more freely in the Underworld, but once they get to the physical World of Darkness they would fall back to their prison quickly unless they find an anchor. Usually, such an anchor may be found in gates, but for some reasons places which stink from the Dead may also hold them stable for long enough to devour unsuspecting people, which is why the Shepherds hunts down ghosts and guard Haunts. Yet, there is one another anchor they may grasp into- their own hunters.

    It all began just as the group was founded, when they fought against Gwyn ap Nudd, the greatest servant of Arawn, and through him into the pits of the mountain, where he was bound until he lost his form and fell back to Annwn. When they did so, they opened a slight crack in the Otherworld- yet for a non existing place like Annwn, that crack was as boundless as the skies, and from that crack Arawn looked at the world which was denied of him, and cursed.

    Since then, each new member of the Shepherds shares that ages old curse- near them, the Hounds may roam freely, and the very presence of a Shepherd is quickly sensed by any nearby Cwn Annwn. This is why they always hear the Hounds coming- for they always are. Because of that curse, the witches never settle in one place for too long unless it is one of their Sacred Sites, which they usually protect with their Blood Circle (the Hounds are considered as "dead" for the boundary). While the Hounds rarely attack them directly (for their presence give them form), they would gladly devour any random person who is near them, leading them to lonesome lives. Yet, that curse has an upside- for they can always sense when an Hound is coming near, like a special Unseen Sense
    Resolution: leaving the Shepherds and never using Blood Rites again. As long as a Blood Rite is active even if the hunter stopped carried the Vigil, he regains that Condition.
    Beat: every time the character must abandon something in order to protect it from the Hounds, she gets a Beat.
    Last edited by LostLight; 01-05-2016, 03:07 PM.

    Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

    "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

    I now blog in here

  • #2
    By any chance, does this new hunter group of yours tie in with the Cwn Annwn Legacy?

    "My Homebrew Hub"
    Age of Azar
    The Kingdom of Yamatai


    • #3
      yep :P (a sidebar is on its way)

      Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

      "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

      I now blog in here


      • #4
        Hunters and Witches, Witches and Hunters
        While the Hounds are a constant concern for the Shepherds, in the end they are not their daily threat. They hear them howl, they draw them near, they are forced into endless wandering in order to not endanger those who they care about- yet they rarely actually meet the Hounds or their master. The Cwn Annwn are unstable beings who, without a gate or a similar anchor, would quickly vanish to where they came from. Arawn, the Lord of the Dogs, is trapped in its own prison world, only tasting the remains of what its Hounds feat upon. Because of that, their main concern are the dead- for ghosts may quickly feed the Hounds and draw them near. As long as there are no ghosts around, and the gates are guarded, the Witches are safe. There is no reason the Hounds would manage to come to this world.

        At least, as long as there won't be any Hunter calling them.

        Gwyn ap Nudd, the Hunter, the greatest servant of Arawn who was defeated by the earliest Mountain Witches who locked him in the very hell he worshiped, was the greatest danger the group ever faced. He was a willworker, a magician who searched the gates for the knowledge of the fae. Instead, he draw the attention of Arawn, who promised him a paradise upon earth- in exchange of leading his own "Wild Hunt". Tempted by the promises of power, Gwyn agreed, and his Hunt devoured countless lives, turning them into their own puppet show created for his amusement. While his emergence was the reason the Shepherds bonded together in the first place, after his defeat they were sure that the danger was over. Annwn was locked, forever and ever. No new Hunter may rise again.

        If only that was the case..

        Gwyn was, after all, a willworker, and as others of his kind he left behind tons of texts which detailed his researches and rituals. After he was defeated by the hands of the Witches, his house was raided by a group of magicians who took away his research and kept it "for safe keeping". While they saw the ritual as blasphemous, destroying that knowledge may cause more harm than good- after all, there was no guarantee that a new Hunter won't come, and so they should maintain everything they knew about that distant realm- just in case. The truth was a lot more simple- they just hated to see god knowledge going to waste, wherever that knowledge may have came.

        For centuries, no one has touched the accursed text, and for centuries the Witches believed that it was destroyed- until one day, a young mage called Argent came to Wales and used his magic to open a gate to Annwn. When the spell was cast, all the Shepherds all around Wales suddenly heard a great howl, one which moved through the depths of hell and bursted to the surface, echoed with a terrible laughter- Arawn was free once more.

        When they finally reached the site, it was too late- the gate was defiled, and Argent (who in the meanwhile took the name "Arawn" for himself) has already escaped. Next time they heard about him, they discovered that the new Hunter had a different approach: instead of commanding the whole Wild Hunt by himself, he divided his power among his followers. Now, they had to deal not just with a single Hunter, but with an whole cabal of magicians who held terrible powers in their hand- and that even without the help of the Hounds. While they may have turned to the other mages for help, they didn't- after all, it was their fault for it to happen in the first place, and besides, the "true" witches always looked down on their "lower" siblings.

        Without the help of true mages, however, the fight against the legacy would be almost impossible. With their small numbers and limited influence, they can barely guard the many gates of Wales, not to mention supervising the Legacy all around the world. That is one of the reasons they have started to make an attempt and reach beyond their boundaries. Sure, for now it seems the new Hunters show more interest in strengthening their own dream world, it is only a matter of time before the Hounds would drive them toward the small compact in an attempt to reclaim Cadair Idris. And when that would happen, maybe this time Arawn itself would be free- and you don't need to be a witch to know that that would not end up well...

        for more information about the Cwn Annwn Legacy, check Left Handed Path

        Knights of St George: "we try to not draw their attention. They have a strong presence here in Britain, and while our blood magics work differently than the powers of enchanters and magicians, they don't tend to separate one witch from another. However, they may be useful- for example, in a case you discover the whereabouts of a certain Hunter who got too close to the mountain..."
        Ashwood Abbey: "how many times I had stumbled upon those brats as they tried to sneak into a gate or draw out the dead! They think it is a game- when it is more like a gamble, only with their own life on the line. Maybe I should just let the Hounds to take them..."
        Hunt Club: "being rich and powerful doesn't protect you from anything. We follow older laws than man, and we we have our own justice to carry. By committing murder, you both disturb the life and anger the dead, and so ghosts linger. You don't even need to actually do something- just wait near them for long enough for an Hound to come. Unlike other methods, that one leaves no proofs behind"
        Office of the Lord Steward: "We don't like to government- they always seem to want something from us, not caring for all the things we do for them in the shadows. Those guys are the purest form of that idea- they usually ask for our help when they deal with a troublesome ghost or require our knowledge in blood magics. While it is not that comfortable, who do as they ask- apparently, we reached toward some sort of "agreement""

        "I hear it loud and clear. It is coming for you, and you'll have to chose- either you'll move on, or that it would drag you back to hell with it. What do you choose?"
        Last edited by LostLight; 11-12-2015, 05:56 PM.

        Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

        "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

        I now blog in here


        • #5

          I am definitely liking this extra content (and integrating it into my universe's canon). While I haven't read up much on the Cwn Anwwn in that book, I definitely like the concept behind them. And the Shepherds certainly provide opportunities for a lot of crossover potential between Hunter and Mage.

          "My Homebrew Hub"
          Age of Azar
          The Kingdom of Yamatai