Amongst the barbaric tribes of The Northlands, the worship of ‘The Anemoi’ or ‘The Four Winds’ is the prevalent religion. The faith centres around the four Winds of legend, one at each of the cardinal points of a compass with four minor Winds spaced between them. Much like any other deity, each Wind comprises a sphere of influence which is usually related to the type of weather a physical wind from that direction would bring. This sphere indicates the kind of personality its followers display and which domains their clerics can choose. Unlike a deity however, the Winds themselves are not sentient, they are purely a coalescence of thought and ideas which tribes have lumped together into similar groups over the years. Unless a follower worships a particular demonlord from within the Wind’s sphere (see below), his prayers are not answered by a thinking being but by the power of faith within him.
Each tribe usually follows a single Anemoi, its followers each choosing a totem or aspect of that Anemoi on which to model their lives. For example the cult of Boreas, the North Wind is the most powerful at the moment with the most tribes counted amongst its worshippers. Followers of Boreas may focus on the biting cold wind, summoning ice and freezing rain while others find their faith in his resilience and have become almost impervious to damage. Still others liken his thunderous advance to that of a stampede of horses and so become expert riders.
The sphere of influence of each Anemoi is quite varied and the winds aren’t limited to alignments like other deities, instead each tribe (and indeed each worshipper) determines their own interpretation of the Winds’ teachings. Some use their powers to defend their village or increase crop yield while others wield the Winds like weapons and call down vast thunderstorms on their enemies. Saying that, the winds are very strongly linked to the elements, which in Orithia have been corrupted by the forces of The Abyss. Thus, a lot of tribes have turned to demon-worship through the Winds which has furthered the stereotype of the marauding northlanders some tribes have endeavoured to destroy. The fact is that whether or not the tribes realise it, worshipping The Four Winds or any other elemental power runs the risk of corruption from a demonic source thanks to the corrupted nature of the elemental plane.
Each of the four Anemoi and the four minor winds are described below along with their associated spheres of influence.
Sacred Animal: Bear/Horse
Symbol: snowflake or conch shell
Demonlords: Kostchtchie, Pale Night, Sertrous, Cryonax
Domains: Air (deals cold damage instead of electricity), Repose, War, Chaos, Destruction
Favored Class: Berserker or Ranger
Boreas is the freezing north wind which brings bitter ice storms and destroys crops with its unyielding pummelling assault. Followers of Boreas tend to be slow to anger but unstoppable when provoked enough. Like the avalanche which gathers speed as it thunders down the mountain, a berserker or a cleric of Boreas is as tough to kill as the bears which they so revere. Tribes following Boreas tend to be very militant and count a high proportion of their number as warriors (especially berserkers and rangers). Followers of Boreas may not be the most talkative of people but once you gain their trust they are generally quite loyal.
Sacred Animal: Eagle/Locust
Symbol: flames or lightning
Demonlords: Pazuzu, Yeenoghu, Imix
Domains: Fire, Strength, Weather, Liberation, Sun
Favored Class: Fighter
The winds from the south bring with it the desert heat in searing sirocco gusts. The cults of Nostus are like Boreas very militant, however they are generally a lot more angry than the cold wind’s believers. To fight a warrior of Nostus is to fight a burning tornado who will overcome you with a blind, frenzied strength as opposed to Boreas’ unstoppable yet slow advance or Zephyrus’s sleek manoeuvres. Nostus’ symbols are naturally flames and its priests and sorcerers learn to wield fiery powers and powerful martial strikes. Followers of Nostus are generally quite emotional and highly value their freedom.
Sacred Animal: Tree/Fox
Symbol: crystals/gems or plant images
Demonlords: Grazz’t, Malcanthet, Zuggtmoy, Ogrémoch
Domains: Crystal, Community, Charm, Plant, Trickery
Favored Class: Bard (called a Skald)
Wind from west tends to bring fairly gentle weather and is seen as a sign of pleasant times. The wind can be deceptive however, occasionally bringing horrific maritime storms or eerie ghostly sounds. Followers of Zephyrus tend to respect the land and rarely hurt plants/animals unless they have to (even if thoroughly evil). The magic surrounding music and sound comes naturally to Zephyrus’ followers and every Zephyrus tribe has a cadre of Skalds who function as musicians, emissaries and historians and are amongst the most respected members of the tribe. Zephyrus’ tribes tend to be close-knit family orientated groups who take care of their own and have silvered tongues which makes them come across to outsiders as friendly and welcoming. This is often true but the darker cults often engage in incestuous activities and harbour a deep hatred of outsiders.
Sacred Animal: Vulture (evil tribes) or Owl (good tribes)/Crocodile
Symbol: eye or swirling designs
Demonlords: Demogorgon, Kyuss, Jubilex, Olhydra
Domains: Water (deals acid damage instead of cold), Magic, Luck, Madness, Knowledge
Favored Class: Wizard (called a shaman)
The wind rarely blows from the east but when it does it is considered bad luck, often causing warlords to call off assaults or families to discard newborns born during an easterly wind which brings storms of acidic rain as often as it brings plague infested wind, strange rains of frogs or beautiful sunny weather. All except the followers of Eurus however who harness the capricious energies of the eastern wind. Eurus is oft associated with spellcasters and arcane knowledge, which leads many of its cultists to develop interests in such subjects and most tribes are led by a Shaman or Cleric with the magic domain.
Sacred Animal: Spider
Symbol: spider or skull
Demonlords: Lolth, Orcus
Domains: Air, Death, Evil, Darkness
Favored Class: Cleric
Where Eurus is considered unlucky or fickle, Kalikus is the only wind considered truly evil by the tribes of the northlands. Geographically, a north-west wind blows directly from the blighted wasteland surrounding the north pole. The only thing that every tribe agrees on is that when Kalikus blows (which is thankfully even rarer than Eurus), only bad things can come. There are no tribes who openly follow Kalikus, instead the cult operates by night forming a secret meeting of disillusioned members of the other tribes. Almost all the cultists follow either Lolth or Orcus directly but there are a few who revel directly in the dark evil of Kalikus and the desire to cause harm for its own sake.
Sacred Animal: Fish (especially Sharks)
Symbol: trident or whirlpool with a two central eyes
Demonlords: Dagon, Yan-C-Bin
Domains: Water, Travel, Protection, Weather
Favored Class: Oracle
Livas protects seafarers and travellers but also punishes those who do not show respect to the ocean by sending them to the briny deeps. Worshipped by the tribes who dwell on the coast primarily as they sail upon the waves more than any other tribe, Livas’ cult are expert sailors and marine warriors. They have also been known to consort with dark, tentacled powers which dwell beneath the waves and rumours of ‘fish-men’ refuse to die down.
Sacred Animal: Mammals (especially Bull)/Insects
Symbol: minotaur skull or horseshoe
Demonlords: Baphomet, Obox-ob
Domains: Earth, Animal, Destruction
Favored Class: Ranger or Druid
Apelotus is the spirit of wild herds of beasts, the predatory instinct of the hunter and the unstoppable hunger of the parasite. Followers of Apelotus have an innate affinity with animals and creepy-crawlies of all kinds and are often accused of beastiality (a claim which is never truly denied). Apelotus’ cultists make expert hunters but very insular and don’t take kindly to outsiders or those who choose to leave their fold. Those who do leave and travel to more civilised lands quickly get hired as trackers and bounty hunters, but are constantly looking over their shoulders and out-smarting the ‘claw-packs’ sent by their former families to hunt them down.
Sacred Animal: Wolf/Raven
Symbol: Hammer or Dagger
Domains: Fire, Rune, Artifice, Trickery
Favored Class: Alchemist
Skiron is the weakestof all the winds and has the fewest followers (except maybe Kalikus) despite being the most common wind. Because the wind is almost always blowing from the north-west, most tribes think of Skiron as just being wind and not a primal force worthy of worship. Because of this prejudice, those who follow Skiron have sought to find ways to make their cult more powerful and resourceful. This has led to a natural defensive ‘screen’ to be put up whenever they meet other cults, often boasting about their impressive kills or brave deeds (most of which are lies). They have also taken to using technology from more civilised peoples like Dun-E-Dor or Salamonis (recently even Menephene) such as forging, blackpowder and literature. This has only deepened the suspicion which other tribes feel about Skiron’s cults and has led to even more lies and trickery on their part.