Date: Thu 21 Nov 1991 - 09:56:33 EET
The River Ritual of the Sun People appears on p.40 - 41 of SUN COUNTY. This chapter describes an important ritual carried out annually by the people of Sun County. The ritual reenacts the alliance made by the first Count with the daughter of Zola Fel, god of the River of Cradles. The quester fights and defeats a designated foe of the river, and then enters into a ritual marriage with the nymph. In return, the Sun Dome lands are irrigated by the life-giving waters of the Zola Fel. Independent questers may also take part in such a quest, in order to gain assistance from the river.
The five stages of the quest are as follows:
I. The quester seeks sanctuary in the River from his foes .
II. The quester meets the naiad and is transported magically to the enemy which is harming or polluting the river.
III. The quester fights and defeats the foe.
IV. If successful, the quester strengthens the ties of the river with the land, and receives the river's blessing.
V. The quester and the naiad consummate their union and the quester returns with the river's gift.
These gamemaster notes expand on the River Ritual, providing more information about independent quests, and describing the wonderous naiad Kinope, daughter of Zola Fel.
The initiate chosen to take part in the River Ritual is ideally an unmarried male, who then enters into a ritual marriage with the nymph. Theoretically, a female could undertake the quest, seeking to marry Zola Fel himself, but this would be unheard of in the patriarchal Sun Dome society, even for one of their Yelornan cousins.
The ritual requirements and difficulties of independent questers vary with their origin. In Prax, three such alternate origins are probable: Storm worshippers, Praxian nomads, and Lunars.
Storm Worshippers: Storm worshippers have the best chance of success of the independents, reenacting their own myths of alliance between Storm and Sea. The most common among Praxian storm cultists would be the marriage of Rainbow Girl into the Storm pantheon; among Orlanthi, the god's rescue and wooing of Huraya, a mist spirit.
Praxian Nomads: The river forces are hostile to the nomads, due to Waha's pollution of the Sounder's River when he forced her to wash away the remains of the Devil. However, the river is friendly to the Earth powers, as represented by Eiretha, and so while the quest is difficult for them, it is not impossible. Usually, some force of the river must be faced in Stage II. If the nomad offers gifts or aid, and avoids combat with it regardless of its actions, he can succeed. If he fights and wins, he is enacting Waha's subjugation of the Sounder's River. He can succeed in the main quest, but will be considered a foe of the river and will be subject to the geas of Stage IV. The benefits he gains will be tailored towards conquest: a Command spell for a type of river creature or undine, or perhaps a plundered River Eye spell. If the nomad fails to appease or defeat the river force, he may not continue the quest.
Lunars: Because this ritual has certain similarities to river rituals in their own lands, the Lunar priestesses are researching its secrets in the hope that one day they can make a similar pact with Zola Fel to help the many Lunar farmers who are settling in the valley. The Lunars will try to draw on their ties to the Oslir River to complete the quest. But in their conquest of Peloria they exterminated the intelligent life of the Oslir, and so they are distrusted. The Lunars have been making friendly overtures to the Zola Fel cult, and even plan to marry the river god into their pantheon. They are also staunch allies of the Sun Dome temple, so perhaps the quest is possible. The procedure is similar to that of the Praxian nomads, but the penalty for failure at any stage is more severe.
Kinope the Nymph: Daughter of Zola Fel
This naiad is a gentle soul, whose days are spent in blissful frolic with all number of river creatures. Farmers, travellers, nomads and boatmen count themselves lucky if they are fortunate enough to spot her plunging through the currents, for Kinope is a remarkable beauty, in a fragile, waiflike way. She often indulges wayfarers in playful banter and sports with them a while. But it is known that her usually ebullient mood can abruptly sour if she is blundered into when she is at rest in still water, and Kinope is not above swamping boats and driving off intruders with huge undines. The nymph can be seen the length of the river, but always returns to the Sun County area for her ritual obligations in sea season. She takes this task quite seriously, for the pact she made in distant times with Count Arinsor brings benefits to her father and his river folk. Kinope drinks only ambrosia, the nectar of the gods which bubbles forth from secret springs near the Zola Fel's headwaters.
Note that Kinope's abilities exceed those of a normal naiad, for she is the daughter of a god.
STR 10 19-20 Head 20 0/5
CON 17 16-18 L.A. 18-19 0/4 SIZ 08 13-15 R.A. 16-17 0/4 INT 15 12 Chest 11-15 0/6
POW 28 09-11 Abdm 07-10 0/5
DEX 17 05-08 L.L 04-06 0/5 APP 23 01-04 R.L 01-03 0/5 Fatigue: 31 (uses no FP when in the River)
Hit Points: 13
Move: 3/9 swimming
Spirit Magic (140%): Shimmer-5; Heal-5 (effective on targets of any species); Extinguish-1; Mobility-3; River Eye. The naiad can also automatically cast a Lantern spell of any intensity (up to current magic points), gained from Count Skindilli Longlegs.
Divine Magic (140%): Breathe Air x4 ; Breathe Water x5; Extension x8; Float x6; Mindlink; Purify Water x11; Sanctify x3; Soul Sight; Spellteaching; Summon Undine x12; Summon/Ride River Horse x1 (one-use).
Skills: Ceremony 344%; Summon 299%; Hide in water 202%; Sneak in water 189%; Courtesan 117%; Sing 153%.
Languages: Riverspeech 75%; Various local tongues 40%.
Magic Items: When in the River, the naiad can draw upon an additional 14 magic points to power her spells and abilities. This is gained directly from her father.
Special Abilities: For every 10 meters she is away from the River, she loses a magic point. Magic points cannot be regained until she returns to the river. The naiad can transform herself into an undine: SIZ is equal to 1 cubic meter for each magic point she expends. She can also command any number of incomplete creatures living in the river for an hour at a cost of one magic point per creature.
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