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A Manifestation of Ehlonna

 
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edmundscott
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:53 pm    Post subject: A Manifestation of Ehlonna Reply with quote

In a couple weeks, two of the characters in my current campaign (a half-elven archivist & a half-orc druid) are going to experience a direct encounter with their deity, Ehlonna. Because this sort of thing is incredibly rare and special in my campaign, I’d like to solicit help from the Greyhawk community to make this memorable.

Ehlonna is an odd deity, in Greyhawk lore, because she’s been there from the beginning, but nobody seems to have done very much to develop her, or entangle her in stories or in plots. I’ve tried to rectify that a bit.

In my version of Oerth, Ehlonna is known by different names and slightly different portfolios in different places. She is Ehlenestra to the elves, Bastet to the people of Khemit on the other side of the world, Artemis or Demeter in other civilizations. What is consistent is that she’s always a goddess of hunting, natural places, and of animals. Among the Old Faith, she represents the maiden and the spring.

Ehlonna is also an Intermediate Deity and I don’t want the PCs to forget for even a single moment the unknowable scope of her power. I don’t want this vision to be one of those simple “you meet a deity in disguise who tells you some stuff” moments. I want it to feel that Ehlonna is so vast and intelligent and powerful that she’s nearly unable to make herself comprehensible to mortals in any way except through dream logic, surreal images, symbolism, portents, omens, etc.

The kind of experience I’m going for would be akin to the end of 2001 A Space Odyssey, or some of the Black Lodge stuff from Twin Peaks—only instead of a Stanley Kubrick or David Lynch sensibility, these dream images, symbols, portents, etc. are entirely informed by an Ehlonna/Ehlenestra/Bastet sensibility. So it’s strange and the PCs feel small and bewildered but they’re not at all threatened or scared, it’s just that Ehlonna is a god and they’re mere mortals, and their brains can’t quite wrap around exactly what she’s trying to tell them.

What I’d love to get from the Canonfire crew are some ideas of how Ehlonna might manifest in these ways: sublime visions, sounds, scenes, whatever anyone wants to suggest drawn from her existing lore or those of her Bastet or Artemis or Ehlenestra aspects.
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edmundscott
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Joined: Sep 20, 2001
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are some particulars of the quest Ehlonna will be sending the PCs on (and thanks to Rasgon for the idea that inspired this):

In ancient days, Ehlonna/Ehlenestra’s lover was Tarsellis Meunniduin, who represented the winter; but, seduced by the goddess Megwandir, he forsook Ehlenestra and inadvertently assisted in the sundering of the elves. Megwandir, defeated by the Seldarine, fled and became the demoness Lolth, while Tarsellis, self-disgusted by his weakness, tore out his own heart so he could never be deceived again, throwing it into the Crystalmists, where a mountain of ice formed around it.

Tarsellis then retreated to the Between where the Feywild slides into the ShadowRealm, and sealed the entire demi-plane against all others of great power so that neither Ehlonna, nor any of her angelic servitors, could pursue him. There he still broods, in his cold mountain palace, except on nights of the full moon when he imbues an avatar, the Master of the Wild Hunt, with all of his power to ride upon the Oerth in pursuit of monsters and personages powerful enough he considers them worthy to be hunted by him. On those nights, with all his power elsewhere, the god sleeps in solitude in the highest tower of his ice palace.

The PCs, without really knowing what they’re undertaking, have already recovered the three parts (two gem eyes in a cat statuette) of an ancient artifact of Ehlonna (in her Bastet aspect), which was corrupted by her bitterness and grief when she was forsaken by Tarsellis. The party’s first task will be to enter the ice mountain in the Crystalmists and recover Tarsellis’ heart; that is but a prelude, however, to the true quest.

On the spring equinox, CY596, starting at moonrise and concluding before moonset, the PCs must—

1) convince a master smith to unmake Ehlonna’s corrupted artifact on the Dread Forge of Demogorgon (Dungeon #120; recovered by the party in my last campaign); this will destroy both artifacts at once
2) the destruction will free five imprisoned retired epic-level PCs from previous campaigns; these epic characters, too powerful to ever enter Tarsellis’ protected realm, are Ehlonna’s bait, and she knows Tarsellis will send the Wild Hunt to Oerth to pursue them from moonrise to moonset, hoping to hunt down and slay five of the greatest heroes of Oerth as proof of his own superiority
3) if the epic-level retired PCs can just stay alive along enough to provide a distraction, the current PCs (all 5th-6th lvl) will have a chance to sneak between worlds into the faerie realms, at the very border of Shadow; from there, they must infiltrate Tarsellis’ eerie faerie palace, find the body of the sleeping god, and replace his frozen heart.
4) If this is done, Ehlonna knows that Tarsellis must needs look to her again; he will repent his pride and his isolation, and he will return to her arms and the Oerth once again.

Again, I'm not necessarily looking for you to tie any of this stuff in--I'm more interested in the sublime and mysterious imagery in which Ehlonna may manifest to the PCs.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A glowing white unicorn, doe, mare, or cat: elusive, translucent, vanishing and reappearing every few steps.

A heavily pregnant unicorn, doe, mare, or cat gives birth in front of the PCs, its offspring delivering the message in a soft, wise voice. The mother might start out skeletally thin and grow to full pregnancy in a matter of minutes.

Or the PCs hear rumors of a miraculous speaking human or elven babe born with a birthmark shaped like Ehlonna's horn. The child delivers Ehlonna's message to the PCs and then becomes a normal infant, except the birthmark remains.

A freshly killed prey animal or fallen foe sprouts leaves, branches, green shoots, begins speaking.

Everyone glows with the light of Luna, dancing silver light begins to speak.

A deer-shaped, horse-shaped, or cat-shaped construct made of woven branches and flowers approaches.

In the immediate vicinity, the seasons turn and shift. Winter falls, spring arrives, green and new. Or the PCs must walk through a region of sudden bitter winter until they reach the distant land of spring.

The evening star shines in the sky, grows larger, approaches the PCs as a shining, hovering female form.

Hundreds of cats appear, one at a time, trailing the PCs like shadows seen out of the corners of their eyes, their own eyes luminescent in the dark. They speak as one.

Plants emerge from the barren soil, weaving together a female form woven of living, flowering stems.

The PCs notice they leave no footprints, and haven't been for a while. After a time, they come across their missing tracks, spelling out words.

The PCs discover a glowing silvery hunting horn. Blowing it, comprehensible words emerge from its mouth.

A pack of moon dogs arrive to proclaim Ehlonna's will.

A solitary cat, large as a tiger, gazes languidly at the PCs. A silver unicorn horn emerges from its head, or it has silvery antlers like that of a stag.

Standing alone in the center of a glade is a tree with silvery leaves, shining with silver light. Dozens of cats lounge in its branches. Words form in the breeze that blows through the leaves, or fallen leaves spell out words, or the cats begin to whisper.

A ghaele eladrin arrives to deliver Ehlonna's message.

The moonlight forms a solid path to a realm of pure silver light that imparts any knowledge the PCs should have.

A tree opens up a hollow to a winding realm of wooden tunnels that runs within all trees. Words are inscribed in the living halls, or dryads deliver a message.
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JasonZavoda
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd recommend looking into Robert Holdstock's writing, especially the Mythago Wood material. Robert Graves "The White Goddess" might also prove helpful.

All saints revile her, and all sober men
Ruled by the God Apollo's golden mean -
In scorn of which I sailed to find her
In distant regions likeliest to hold her
Whom I desired above all things to know,
Sister of the mirage and echo.

It was a virtue not to stay,
To go my headstrong and heroic way
Seeking her out at the volcano's head,
Among pack ice, or where the track had faded
Beyond the cavern of the Seven Sleepers:
Whose eyes were blue, with rowan-berry lips,
With hair curled honey-coloured to white hips -

Green sap of spring in the young wood a-stir
Will celebrate the Mountain Mother,
And every song-bird shout awhile for her;
But I am gifted, even in November
Rawest of seasons, with so huge a sense
Of her nakedly worn magnificence
I forget cruelty and past betrayal,
Careless of where the next bright bolt may fall
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JasonZavoda
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the emptiness that was her face Peredur thought he could see the shape of the hag who inhabited the body of the entity. She was older than time itself, and only the Wildwoods saved from her evil glance.

"I will give you your Guiwenneth," cried the Jagad. "But each man here will answer for her life. I am the huntress of the first woods, and the ice woods, and the stone woods, and the high tracks, and the bleak moors; I am the daughter of Moon and Saturn; Sour herbs cure me, bitter juices sustain me, bright silver and cold iron gird me. I have always been in the earth, and the earth shall ever nourish me, for I am the eternal huntress, and when I have need of you, Peredur, and your nine hunters, I shall call upon you, and whoever I call shall go. There is no time so remote that you shall not wander through it, no land too wide or too cold, or too hot, too lonely for a quest to take you."

Robert Holdstock
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edmundscott
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! Thank you both so much for the thoughtful responses.

Between Jason's excellent index and forum posts, and the innumerable intriguing ideas I've poached from Rasgon over the years, I truly feel indebted to both of you, to the tune of dinner and drinks if we're ever attending the same convention or otherwise encounter each other in the same city. My campaign thanks you.

I'm going to attempt a multifarious vision, where the ground of the dream, as it were, shifts every few moments beneath the dreamers, so it's extremely likely I'll use, in one form or another, almost all of the suggestions above.

Robert Graves is one of those authors I've been meaning to get around to forever, and I'd say this gives me the excuse/kick-in-the-pants I need.

I'm also interested in reading this Mythago Wood series, which I've never heard of before. According to this allegedly-learned sage Wikipedia, the order of publication has no bearing on the chronological order of the books so I'm a little lost as to which one to read first. Do you have a recommendation, Jason?

Also, are there any obscure or weird takes on Ehlonna I might not be aware of?
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JasonZavoda
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

edmundscott wrote:
Wow! Thank you both so much for the thoughtful responses.

Between Jason's excellent index and forum posts, and the innumerable intriguing ideas I've poached from Rasgon over the years, I truly feel indebted to both of you, to the tune of dinner and drinks if we're ever attending the same convention or otherwise encounter each other in the same city. My campaign thanks you.

I'm going to attempt a multifarious vision, where the ground of the dream, as it were, shifts every few moments beneath the dreamers, so it's extremely likely I'll use, in one form or another, almost all of the suggestions above.

Robert Graves is one of those authors I've been meaning to get around to forever, and I'd say this gives me the excuse/kick-in-the-pants I need.

I'm also interested in reading this Mythago Wood series, which I've never heard of before. According to this allegedly-learned sage Wikipedia, the order of publication has no bearing on the chronological order of the books so I'm a little lost as to which one to read first. Do you have a recommendation, Jason?

Also, are there any obscure or weird takes on Ehlonna I might not be aware of?


Id start with Mythago Wood. It may give you some good ideas on a dream state or reality warping campaign. The books that closely follow Mythago Wood should have some very interesting concepts of primal archetypes that dwell in humanity's unconscious mind that might be good source material for an Ehlonna type goddess.
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