“Do not ask which creature screams in the night,
Do not question who waits for you in the shadow.
It is my cry that wakes you in the night,
And my body that crouches in the shadow.
I am Tzeench and you are the puppet
That dances to my tune.”
Feared, dreaded, and barely remembered, the Old Gods are the essences of primordial powers that were worshiped by men at the dawn of time. They are remembered by their titles rather than whatever true names they might have had. The Church of The Three has cast them down and replaced them, deities making war on each other. In the end, the old order gave way to the new, but not without parting gifts of their own. One of these is widely known as the Taint—a mind sensitive to magic and its ebbs and flows through the world beyond the Veil. The Beyond echoes with the essence and touch of the Old God, the home of their shattered pieces and unassailable bastion of their eternal power.
Widely known Old Gods, thought of as the most powerful or ancient are known as the Exarchs and serve as the core of the Pantheon. While most have been forgotten, temples and way-shrines to these still stand, and the Church of the Three still views them as an active threat.
They are as follows:
- The Huntress, Dread Lady of the Wilds, Mother of Winter
- The Silent Lord, Keeper of Secrets and Knowledge
- The Devourer, King of Flames, Architect of Chaos
- Earth Woman, Queen of Stone, Healing Mother
- The Siren, Embodiment of the Sea, Guardian of the Waters
- The Howling One, Lord of Tempests and the Heavens
While “dead” according to legend, one should never mock or taunt the Old Gods in the Beyond. Speaking their true name is liable to bring their undivided attention upon the mortal who uttered it. Judging by the fact that their names are now lost to history, most scholars presume that the Old Gods were not pleased at being disturbed.
It should be explained that the Old Gods are not evil. They are “terrible”, in the same way that a volcano is “terrible”. They are not beings whose natures lend them well to human morality. They operate as forces of nature and primal urges, and for all the many gifts they may bring, they can just as readily take away. The rains that nourish a farmer’s crop are a gift of the Howling One just as much as a two hundred year storm is His doing. Someone who understands this is probably the best equipped to handle the Old Gods.
As a good sage would advise, accept their blessings when they come, for they are rare, and do the best that you can on your own. Begging for their intercession is rather like trying to ride a hurricane. However, it is never a bad idea to leave offerings in their shrines, as sometimes you might find yourself miraculously spared as they control their domain. Many a lone hunter caught in mountain storms has found themselves making offerings to the Huntress to spare them and later find that the winds and snow ease long enough for them to find the path. However, the Old Gods are mercurial creatures, so it is foolish and even dangerous to expect them to answer every prayer.