|Vicinity of Citadel, 8 Miles per Hex|
It is a kingdom of zealots. Mostly.
Since their arrival on Mystara, a sect of Alphatian devouts settled a region along the eastern coast that would later become Bettellyn, and established it as a sanctuary for their faith. Indigenous population was swept aside or absorbed, as elsewhere in mainland Alphatia. Prior to the clash that led to the destruction of their former world, Scions of Llyn had begun following a new pantheon of immortals, known then as The Three: Eyoth, the leader and patroness of magic; Sabbaiah, embodying war; and Horana, death, honor, and ancestry. By the time the realm of Bettellyn was founded on Mystara, three more beings came forth—Astafiel, life and love; Ardoryl, light and lawful purity; and last, Elarion, huntsman and herald.
Oddly, these other-worldly patrons were archons who’d mysteriously gained immortality. Therein lay a conflict with other Alphatians. Common wisdom inferred that archons were created by the Great Ixion as servants of great power—mortal servants. They weren’t meant to attain immortality. Furthermore, it wasn’t clear under whose auspices they had broken the bonds of mortality. As doubt, suspicion, and bigotry mounted, the self-proclaimed followers of immortal archons were shunned by all. Yet, the mystery of the greater archons’ existence drove their followers to a more profound insight. This led to the unveiling of a seventh lord named Samarion who was the pantheon’s true Hierarch. Thus was born the faith of The Seven. It was found that the previous six had gained their immortality under Samarion’s patronage.
But the mystery persisted. Who had put this greatest of archons on the path to becoming a Hierarch and inviting others to join him? Worse, ecclesiastics of other pantheons came to the conclusion that none of their divine patrons had ever heard of The Seven, nor that they thought they existed at all. Ostracism and persecutions turned grimmer and led Bettellyn’s faithfuls to arm themselves and learn the arts of war to protect their beliefs. This enduring realm attracted the inquisitive minds of imperial questors seeking to pierce the secrets of Bettellyn’s faith: how archons earned immortality and why other immortals could not see them. Most of them not only became convinced of the greater archons’ existence, but also that a fundamental truth lay behind them, beckoning all to unveil it. None of The Seven would let on any clues. In fact, these sharp, inquisitive minds came to believe that the only way to learn more involved attaining immortality and joining the pantheon. This resulted in an even more exalted and fanatical faith in Bettellyn, one profoundly Lawful yet warlike.
One may wonder about what sort of society a profoundly Lawful people would create. The truth is that not all Bettellyners are actually Lawful—only the majority. Although true for archons, being Lawful or Chaotic isn’t a genetic trait for humans and demi-humans. Ascribing to one or the other ethos, or any shade in between, results from upbringing, life experience, and faith. In Bettellyn, one usually becomes Lawful, but not always. Those who do not often leave. It is just too uncomfortable for them to remain. Those who stay behind instead develop a public persona consistent with Lawful expectations, yet their inner-selves (either consciously or not) remain fundamentally Neutral or Chaotic. The latter hide among society, behaving Lawfully yet pursuing dark agendas. The stress of untruth and the mental exertion of constantly play-acting against one’s nature eventually take a psychological toll. As a result, Bettellyn harbors few, yet some of the worst and hardest-to-unmask serial-murderers and psychopaths in Alphatia. The latter seek relief through secret sin. This shadier side of Bettellyn hasn’t remained unseen of its leaders, but the latter’s trust in the goodness of their society leads them to hope the misguided ones will eventually see the light and abandon their corrupt ways. Nonetheless, woe be the sinner if caught. That being said, the vast majority of the population is devoted to The Seven and to the freedom of their realm to be what it is.
Bettellyn is a theocratic monarchy. It relies on different yardsticks by which it sets expectations for people. One involves citizens or faithfuls living abroad, and is most demanding. The other includes visitors, foreign residents, neighboring realms, and all non-believers. The latter are tolerated, but generally disliked. An outsider openly acting in a Chaotic fashion will be expelled. Only temples to The Seven may be erected in Bettellyn. Visitors may practice their faiths, but not attempt to spread it within the Holy Realm. Those who try will be expelled. Wizards and clerics often occupy the theocracy’s top levels, but valorous warriors and other glorious agents of The Seven are treated quite fairly.
Bettellyners in foreign lands prefer associating with other Lawful beings, but understand that many misguided souls dwell there. They merely tolerate them, seeking an opportunity to demonstrate the error of their ways. Followers of The Seven see themselves as missionaries, if not prophets, when away from their homeland. There is something Bettellyners will not do: it is associating with creatures they see as clear portents of chaos. This includes monsters of any alignment and outer planar entities physically present on Mystara—unless they are agents of the greater archons. This intolerance resulted in irreconcilable diplomatic differences with Randel, due to their open association with, and active protection of dragons. For that matter, Eadrin’s Shadow Lords fared little better in the view of Bettellyn’s faithfuls. As another consequence, monsters and non-human beings (other than demi-humans) were driven underground, both literally and figuratively. Ironically, many found solace beneath Citadel, Bettellyn’s capital city.
When dealing with a minion of chaos, a Bettellyner will first attempt to convince it to abandon its sinful ways, see the light, and adopt the True Faith. Failing this, anything else becomes fair game. Bettelyners aren’t suicidal though. If a foe cannot be defeated outright, there is no shame in seeking help. It explains how Bettellyn grew so big in the face of hostile prejudice. However steadfastly loyal to the House of Thera, they earned an honored place among the empire at the point of their swords. West of Bettellyn lies Vertiloch and, forbidden to all, virgin Imperial Territories. North stands Foreshome, a quiet, unassuming neighbor. South remain Theranderol and a great source of trouble: Randel and its dragons.
In their preferred appearance, greater archons are large, at least ten feet tall, generally of humanoid morphology, with immense wings and eagle-like lower legs and feet.
Samarion (Hierarch): heads the pantheon and is the one who enabled the coming of The Six. He appears as a copper-skinned male archon with the head of a lion. He is the Maker of Laws, the one who brings Order from Chaos, and the patron of oaths, atonement, and redemption. Judges, monarchs, inquisitors, and justiciars are his devout followers.
Eyoth (Eternal): is a female archon with light blue skin, black hair, and silver wings with a faint blue shimmer. As all female archons, she possesses two bull heads, dark blue in color with ivory horns. She is the patron of wizards, magic, the moon, and restful darkness.
Sabbaiah (Empyreal): a male, red-skinned, with a crimson mane, golden ram horns, and golden wings. He wears a gold chest plate, bracers, and shin guards, and fights with a flaming hammer. Sabbaiah is the patron of justified wars, pain, martyrdom, and holy warriors.
Astafiel (Celestial): a female, her skin like mother of pearl, her hair and wings of shimmering green gossamer. Unlike those of her gender, she does not possess the twin bull heads. She embodies of love, beauty, water, life, fertility, and healing. Those giving or seeking sanctuary beseech her.
Ardoryl (Celestial): a male with golden skin, and the head and wings of a white eagle. Ardoryl is the patron of daylight, lawful purity, heroism, and rebirth, equally honored by Lawful adventurers. He wears a suit of mirror-like golden scales and a sword made of light. Knights, paladins, missionaries, and mystics often honor Ardoryl.
Elarion (Celestial): a male with copper-hued mane and skin, black wings, and the antlers of a stag. As messenger of The Seven, he often addresses the lesser ones in the names of his peers. He fights with a mighty bow and owns an enchanted hunting horn. He is the patron of fate, wisdom, philosophers, prophets, bards, hunters (or rangers), and those who seek divine good fortune.
Horana (Empyreal): a female with jet-black skin, silver hair and wings. Her two bull heads are black with silver horns. Horana governs divine eternity, remembrance of the dead, the honoring of ancestors, consecrated grounds, the dead, and those who tend to them.
Over the centuries Samarion created a number of lesser archons to serve the pantheon and provide physical manifestations among high level mortal followers. Like their masters, these outer planar servants remain totally undetected by other immortals. Although greater archons appear to relate to the Sphere of Energy as they did originally, this affinity shifted over time. They are of all and of neither of the five spheres, their exaltation reflecting a growing empathy for a power transcending the established spheres. One thing never changed, however. Greater archons are unalterably and profoundly Lawful (read Lawful Good in AD&D terms).
Of particular interest to both proponents of The Seven and followers of other immortals are seven holy revelations, one from each of the greater archons. As a whole, they are known as the Hebdomadea. The fact that only the first was revealed provoked the highest of concerns among all other faiths. The other six are secrets known only to exclusive circles among agents of The Seven. This reinforces the mistrust surrounding the theocracy.
The First Revelation, made by Elarion, is as follows: A mighty chariot of the stars, in darkness forever hidden. Virtually no one knows what this refers to, including Elarion’s followers. Those who suspect what the revelation alludes to include immortals outside the pantheon of The Seven. And they have made it known that they worry about where the other revelations lead.
One immortal in particular has communicated to his closest allies his misgivings about The Seven. It is the original maker of the archons: the immortal Ixion. The disappearance of six archons he created more than two thousand years ago remains completely unexplained to this day. When Ixion heard about certain Alphatians building temples to archons, he became exceedingly curious. Curiosity turned into suspicion when he failed to locate or contact the beneficiaries of Bettellyners’ faiths. The fact six of them bore the names of his disappeared archons reinforced his misgivings. In time, Ixion investigated world-traveling mystics of The Seven and from them pieced together the other prophecies. Suspicion turned to alarm. Ixion now opposes The Seven, concerned that they may be pawns of a conspiracy to destroy Alphatia, despite the theocracy’s unwavering loyalty to the empire. Who Samarion is, how he earned his immortality, and why any of The Seven can’t be reached in any way, all remain nagging mysteries for Ixion.
A character template helps illustrate how ultimate faith in The Seven confers special abilities. Prerequisites for the template demand being Lawful (Lawful Good in AD&D terms) and choosing as a faith one of the greater archons. Experience progression, hit points, and any experience bonuses are those of the original character's class. Shadow Lords and mage-knights may not apply. Losing faith or switching alignments revokes the template’s benefits until proper atonement is performed and prerequisites are restored. In exchange for the template’s benefits, a PC sacrifices 20% of all gained experience. The template is available to any character class, including in some unusual occasions qualifying thieves. The latter are servants of their faiths and use their abilities only to benefit their clerical orders.
Characters with this template are referred to as Companions of the Exalted Faith, or Companions of Samarion, of Eyoth, etc. Each of the seven clerical orders independently sponsors its own Company. A faithful may join a Company very soon after attaining a new experience level. Thus, the least experienced Companion possible is a 2nd level character. The –20% experience penalty begins at this point. A Company’s abilities start becoming available at the next experience level, when a Companion makes a final oath as a True and Accepted Adept. While a new Companion studies the cult, adventuring is permitted in order increase one’s experience in life. The final oath is to spread the word and foster Order where Chaos reigns, in exchange for which the Companion gains access to special abilities. A Companion’s player must keep track of the number of conversions and the total HD involved.
Proselytism is a difficult and often dangerous task. It requires swaying unbelievers to the right beliefs. There are two steps involved. One is to guide a subject to become Lawful. The next is to convince a subject to adopt the proper faith. Proselytism can only target NPCs and monsters except those with a Morale rating of 12, common or giant-size animals, undead or enchanted beings, magical constructs, non-intelligent, semi-intelligent, or mindless creatures, or those relying on a hive mind or an artificial intelligence, sentient objects like magical swords, the author of this article, etc. Beyond merely preaching, this mystical ability imbues a Companion’s with an inspiring sense of marvel and awe. This standard ability is available at all times to all Companions.
Preaching by Example: Provided a target remains in presence of a Companion for a lengthy duration (i.e. it isn’t hostile), the Companion has an opportunity to inspire the target. Each time the Companion succeeds an action (described below), a Conversion Point is scored against the target. When Conversion Points match its HD (or XP level) the target must save vs. spell. If the save succeeds, the Companion must start the entire process anew for another chance to “convert” the target. The latter earns a cumulative +1 bonus to its saves against each subsequent attempt. If a save fails, the target adopts the Companion’s alignment, if different, otherwise the target joins in the Companion’s faith. In other words, a Chaotic being must be converted twice to have it take on the Companion’s faith. A Companion may attempt to convert multiples targets at the same time, although each is treated individually.
Opportunities to Inspire
- Assistance: help the target with a successful spell directed at the target, or through an action that clearly prevents harm to the target. Help must be declared beforehand (“I beseech you, Great Lord, to give me the strength and. . .”) and succeed as intended. The target must not fall unconscious during the encounter.
- Final Strike: the Companion scores the battle’s final blow toppling a common foe or putting it to flight. The latter, either singly or as a group, must exceed initially the combined XP levels or HD of the Companion’s party. An adventure’s final clash ought to count, regardless of relative HD involved.
- Special Feat: solving a major riddle, being the key factor in avoiding a deadly trap, outstanding roleplay*, and any other meaningful heroics*. (*) Should involve clear risk to the Companion and a tangible benefit for the target, and must succeed as intended.
The most likely targets will probably be NPCs, such as retainers in a party or villagers in a place a Companion often visits. The conversion of low level personalities is acceptable, but will become somewhat irrelevant when the Companion earns higher levels. It is also expected that those who defeat a conversion attempt may begin working against the Companion, possibly becoming hostile. This is especially true outside Bettellyn, where clerics of another faith or local aristocracy might see this as personal challenges, if not sedition.
Preaching the Hard Way: Some beings will be hostile and unwilling to listen to a Companion’s words of goodness. Although the Companion should make some effort to parley, a conflict may be inevitable. Beating sense into a misguided head may be the only remaining option. Once a day and at the beginning of a battle, the Companion may invoke his/her immortal patron and solemnly declare that a misguided soul is at stake, which may lead the target to surrender rather than fleeing or dying.
A Morale Check is required when the target sustains at least 75% damage (or a saving throw for the AD&D game if morale mechanics are unavailable). If this check fails, the target surrenders. If it succeeds, the target will never yield to the Companion and gains for the remainder of the battle a +1 bonus to its Morale Checks (or a +1 bonus to its attacks, whichever works best.) This tactic works the same way if the target is a group rather than a single being. Morale Checks (or saving throws) apply only to their leader or whichever is the toughest creature when the foes’ party suffers 75% casualties.
If the target surrenders, the Companion may commune with it. If the Companion benefited from the help of an allied party, the target has a 60% chance of resisting the Companion’s mystical appeal, +1% per HD above the Companion’s XP level, or –1% per XP level of above the target’s HD. If the Companion had single-handedly defeated the target, then its basic odds of resisting the appeal drop to 30%. If the check fails, the target is considered subdued nonetheless. Otherwise, the target switches to the Companion’s alignment. If the target was a group a creatures, only one appeal is made for the toughest of the group or its leader, all the others falling in line.
Charisma modifiers affect odds of resisting the appeal for both BECMI or AD&D game mechanics, as follows:
Charisma Scores and Modifiers
- 2-4 +6% in favor of the subject
- 4-5 +4% in favor of the subject
- 6-8 +2% in favor of the subject
- 9-12 no Charisma modifier
- 13-15 -2% in favor of the Companion
- 16-17 -4% in favor of the Companion
- 18 -6% in favor of the Companion
A change of alignment or faith on such short notice isn’t necessarily permanent. Time is involved to be sure the change is for good. The target is allowed a second check the next day, with a –10% penalty, a third a week later at –15%, a fourth a month later at –20%, and a final check a year later at –25%. In other words, as time passes, it becomes harder for the target to recant. If all these checks fail, the change is permanent, otherwise the creature reverts to its original ethos or faith. For practical reasons, a Companion need not wait this long to find out. The DM performs all checks immediately and gives the Companion’s player a sense of whether the conversion truly worked. A successful Wisdom Check reveals how long it will actually last.
Duties and Penalties: Once a target is converted, a Companion must make legitimate and meaningful efforts to prevent harm to come to it. Failing to prevent a converted target’s death while on the Companion’s watch, or initiating/provoking a battle against someone without just cause for the purpose of conversion, incurs penalties. One is the forfeiture of all current conversion points. Another is a penalty against HD previously converted, which drop according to the number of HD unjustly challenged. The best tactic is to approach a target and attempt to bring the good word; if the target attacks, then a conversion “the hard way” is fully warranted.
Once a Companion has achieved at least one conversion, some of the abilities listed below become available. They reflect both a Companion’s minimum experience level and conversion achievements, which defines Companion Ranks (Adept, Disciple, etc.) Some of these achievements may shift for various reasons, causing earned abilities to become temporarily unavailable. Unless listed otherwise, many are once/day abilities affecting either the Companion or a willing or prone subject. They typically require physical touch and a complete round to activate.
Adept: Level 2—at least 1 Conversion
- Heal: restores 1d6 hp +1 hp/rank; once per rank (a Prophet can therefore use this ability six times per day).
- Minor Contrition: through the act of self-inflicted pain (daily self-flagellation, wearing a girdle of pain) reduces maximum hit points 10%, but temporarily increases the current total of converted HD 20% (round all upward). Provides +2 bonus to saving throws vs. mind-affecting spells or spell-like powers. Duration 1 full day at a time until the practice ends.
- Protection from Evil: as the spell. Permanent.
Disciple: Level 4—at least 5 Conversions affecting 15 HD worth
- Ardor: imbues a +2 bonus to hit and damage to creatures that cannot be converted. This bonus increases +1 per additional rank for the remainder of the battle.
- Cure Affliction: includes common, non-magical infirmities and diseases (blindness, deafness, feeblemindedness, or deformity).
- Exorcism: Companions may use the Turn Undead chart as clerics to expel from a host a spirit or other mind-controlling power (demon-like being, undead, magic-jarred wizard, etc.) Adjuration lasts 1 Turn per HD exorcised. A “T” result identifies the spirit. A “D” prevents the spirit/power from ever repossessing the host.
Witness: Level 6—at least 10 Conversions affecting 40 HD worth
- Cure Greater Affliction: includes magically incurred infirmities and other magical curses (as a remove curse spell—non-reversible).
- Minor Faith Deed: these feats are listed separately for each faith (Samarion, Eyoth, etc.)
- Major Contrition: through the act of self-inflicted pain (daily self-flagellation, wearing a girdle of pain) reduces maximum hit points 25%, but temporarily increases the current total of converted HD 50% (round all upward). Cannot cumulate with minor contrition. Also provides immunity to mind-affecting spells or spell-like powers. Duration 1 full day at a time until the practice ends.
Messenger: Level 8—at least 20 Conversions affecting 100 HD worth
- Cure Minor Magical Disease: includes most magical diseases up to and including early stages of lycanthropy.
- Immunity to Poison: permanently negates all poison effects as the protection from poison spell. Once a day, may also neutralize the effects of poison on someone else.
Herald: Level 10—at least 50 Conversions affecting 300 HD worth
- Galvanize: removes fear as the spell, and temporarily boosts by a half (round up) the maximum hit points of allies within earshot. When the battle ends, those who incurred more damage than their normal maximum hp drop unconscious.
- Rally: bestows a +1 bonus to an army’s Morale Rating and forces a new Morale Check if it was retreating. On a dungeon’s scale, it forces foes within earshot to perform a Morale Check with a –2 penalty, and inflicts a –2 penalty to all their saving throws until the end of the battle.
Prophet: Level 12—at least 100 Conversions affecting 700 HD worth
- Cure Greater Magical Disease: includes the farthest-reaching diseases such as full-blown lycanthropy and permanent curses such as vampirism, etc. This power may prove fatal to the recipient, but will purify its soul so it may rest in peace.
- Greater Faith Deed: these feats are listed separately for each faith (see below).
These abilities can be used once per day. None of their effects are reversible. Granted spell-like abilities are available daily and do not require sleeping or studying to recover. Minor Deeds do require a short prayer (1 round per rank) at the beginning of each day. After using a Major Deed, a Companion must convert another 12 HD-worth of new infidels to regain the ability.
Companions of Samarion
- Minor Deed—Samarion’s Inquest: grants the Companion the ability to detect lies for the remainder of an encounter; no save.
- Greater Deed—Samarion’s Bond: Companion creates a bond when entering into an agreement with another individual, or between two different people. The Companion senses if/when the oath is broken. The violator suffers 1d6 pts of damage per XP level of the Companion (maximum 20d6, no save) and is magically marked on the forehead. Although the mark is invisible, Samarion’s followers plainly see it. Permanent.
Companions of Eyoth
- Minor Deed—Eyoth’s Gift: either grants the Companion an extra spell slot for each available spell level (for spellcasters), or grants a non-spellcaster a specific first-level magic-user spell each day; once chosen, this spell can never be changed.
- Greater Deed—Eyoth’s Web: Companion may “capture” 1d4 spells from any attacker during an encounter; no save. The spells must be aimed at or include the Companion in their areas of effect. The ability is triggered with the first qualified spell attack. When they are captured, spells fail to function at all. Captured spells may be cast later at their original experience levels and within the same day regardless of the Companion’s character class or level, in addition to any normal spellcasting limits.
Companions of Sabbaiah
- Minor Deed—Sabbaiah’s Revenge: if knocked down to 0 hp and revived (or raised from the dead), the Companion bears the ordeal’s stigmata. The Companion thereafter senses the attacker’s general location and fights this foe at +4 to hit and damage whenever encountered. Stigmata vanish when the foe is destroyed. Multiple vows of revenge can be harbored simultaneously over time with different foes. Permanent; no save.
- Greater Deed—Sabbaiah’s Sacrifice: Companion sacrifices his/her own experience to revive a dead hero (as the raise dead fully/resurrection spells), at the rate of 6,000 XP per level revived. Whether a PC or NPC, the recipient is automatically and permanently converted (counting toward the Companion’s running total). “Partial raises” are not permitted.
Companions of Astafiel
- Minor Deed—Astafiel’s Aura: grants the Companion an extra charm spell each day regardless of character class or normal spellcasting limits.
- Greater Deed—Astafiel’s Sanctuary: Companion invokes a 20’ radius sanctuary (as the AD&D spell) protecting allies. Foes within the area of effect when the spell is triggered are forcefully expelled, suffering 3d6 pts of damage; no save. However, a saving throw is still required thereafter for a foe to attack those within. At the Companion’s discretion, all damage inflicted this way is reallocated to heal those within. Duration 2 rounds +1 per experience level.
Companions of Ardoryl
- Minor Deed—Ardoryl’s Blessing: grants the Companion a bless spell each day regardless of character class or normal spellcasting limits. The effect is doubled (+2 bonuses.)
- Greater Deed—Ardoryl’s Fortitude: confers immunity to age-, level-, and ability-draining attacks. The effect also produces a blinding aura reducing attack rolls of all foes that cannot be converted –1 for every three XP levels of the Companion. Duration: 2d4+3 rounds; no save.
Companions of Elarion
- Minor Deed—Elarion’s Good Fortune: Companion may call for any single unfavorable d20 score (an attack score, a saving throw, an ability check, etc) to be rerolled with a modifier +/-1 per rank.
- Major Deed—Elarion’s Vision: Companion generates an effect similar to a timestop, except that the Companion cannot move or cast spells. Instead, a vision shows as a dream the most likely consequences of pursuing the present course of action for the next 2d4+1 rounds. For this duration, the Companion is granted the ability to ESP all those in sight; no save.
Companions of Horana
- Minor Deed—Horana’s Peace: Companion may Turn Undead as a cleric, using the previous column on the Turning Chart; if already a cleric, the Companion uses the chart’s next column (the latter bonus applies to exorcisms—see Disciple rank abilities).
- Greater Deed—Horana’s Servants: Companion summons the spirits of a fallen foe’s former victims up to 1 HD per XP level, purifies them, and retains their services against Chaotic foes (or Evil ones in the AD&D game.) These ghost-like entities own combat abilities similar to shadows. They and their victims are not undead, cannot be turned, and cannot become undead. Duration: 6 Turns; no save.
|Theocracy of Bettellyn, rendered at 8 Miles per Hex|
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