Once, long, long ago, children were born to nine immensely powerful beings called the Elders. Three sets of nine children each came into existence -- titans, gods, daedra -- and the galaxy was their playground. They came upon the planet Earth and began to toy with it, soon discovering that they could draw power from the worship of its mortal inhabitants. They began to grow jealous of each other and squabble for control of this world. Finally, the gods and daedra made an alliance against the titans, their elder siblings, killing some of them to steal their power and imprisoning others in the deep and hidden places of the world.
When the Elders finally returned, thousands of years later, and saw what their children had done to each other -- and to the world that had become their battleground -- they were furious. The surviving titans had been driven mad by their long imprisonment and could not be released; a third of the Elders' children had been lost to them. As punishment, and to keep the gods and daedra from meddling with any more worlds, they bound them to Earth and its sun, preventing them from leaving. They also bound each of their children to a specific sphere of influence, in accordance with his or her temperament and interests; henceforth, they could draw energy only from certain kinds of mortal activity, and none of them could kill any of the others and take their power. Then the Elders left their children to their punishment, as they themselves set out to explore the manifold wonders of the universe.
The gods and daedra soon turned on each other, rallying around Kammoloth and Ba'al as their respective rulers. For thousands of years the two sides struggled for dominance, pitting their own children and countless mortal pawns against each other as they fought to win over the hearts and minds of the peoples of Earth. Three of the gods -- Kammoloth, Samekkh, and Dokorath -- conspired to create a weapon that could end the war, a mortal being capable of doing what they could not: stealing the divine essence of the daedra lords. After long centuries of manipulating mortal bloodlines, they succeeded, creating the Starchild, Merai -- but their weapon turned against them, casting gods and daedra alike to Earth in an event called the Great Fall.
Today these fallen deities walk the Earth like mortal beings, forced to eat, drink and sleep like any human. Though they still wield great power, and can still draw energy from mortal actions, they can be killed. And whoever kills them takes their power, and their place in the pantheon...
Agemnos (Avarice, Ambition)
Agemnos is the CEO of Majestic Industries, a megacorp with offices around the world. MI specializes in technomagery, and was instrumental in the creation of the WorldNet. While he is still unspeakably vain and self-serving, Agemnos no longer seeks to be revered as a god -- the power he holds as a captain of industry is roughly equivalent, and working "within the system" allows him to remain below Kyia's radar most of the time. He is probably the second richest businessperson in the world; only Talia is wealthier.
Akkala (Healing, Purity)
Akkala is an avatar of the Empire, serving as the head of the Department of Health. She is also the leader of the International Red Spiral, a nonprofit organization that works to provide medical care to the poor and needy around the world.
Artela (Nature: Cooperation & Mutualism; Mercy)
Artela is ruling Quenardya. She and Kyia are staunch allies.
Ba'al (Revelry, Debauchery)
Ba'al rules a small but ardent cult that operates in some parts of the Giantdowns and in several major cities in the north. Rather than advocating overthrow of the government, the cult focuses on the pursuit of sensual pleasure.
Dokorath (War, Honor)
Dokorath is dead. Having joined the people of Metamor in the struggle against Talia during the 710s, he was severely wounded in the final battle with the Vampire Queen. Not wanting his power to pass to one of Metamor's enemies, he asked Rickkter to deliver the killing blow. The battlemage complied, and went on to use the power to help Raven defeat Talia and forcibly restore her sanity.
Dvalin is the Prince of Silvassa, a protectorate in southeastern Sathmore and one of the Empire's "breadbasket" regions. Dvalin uses his power to insure that the crops grown in this fertile region are always well-watered. While he has been criticized by some of the other avatars for his penchant for taking human lovers (and thus siring half-celestial offspring), he is a trustworthy and competent governor who is generally well-liked by his people.
Kammoloth (Hearth & Home, Celebration)
Kammoloth's whereabouts are unknown. Devastated by the betrayal of his daughter Merai, disowned by his previously-faithful wife Akkala, and rejected by most of his one-time followers, he disappeared into the wilderness, a broken man. Wherever he is now, he's keeping a low profile.
Author's Note: Kammoloth actually committed a sort of assisted suicide almost a thousand years ago. After many years of wandering the Giantdowns as a vagrant, bereft and broken, he was taken in by a kind-hearted widow who worked as a healer in a small northern village. Having no idea who he was, she nonetheless treated him with kindness, giving him a place that he could call home for the first time since his fall from the Ninth Heaven. In time he found a measure of peace in the quiet, simple life of a Northlands farmer, and he came to love the woman as he had never loved anyone before.
After Kammoloth had lived with her for about twenty years, the woman fell into a terminal illness. For all his power, Kammoloth did not have Akkala's gift for healing others, and had no idea how to cure her. By this time, however, he had heard of Lilith's death at the hands of Talia, and knew that a mortal who took the life of a god would be invested with the deity's power. The woman was reluctant to take this path, since she had come to love Kammoloth as well, but he begged her to accept this gift from him and allow him, at last, to enter the rest of death. In the end she agreed, and cut his throat with a knife of his own making. Restored to health and gifted with eternal youth and immortality, she moved on to another village. She has moved several times over the centuries, keeping her powers secret but using them in small ways to help those who need it. More often, though, it is her wise words and simple kindness, rather than any supernatural talents, that help people to find their way again.
Klepnos (Madness, Prophecy, Knowledge)
Klepnos is at large, wandering around the world as his whims lead him. No one is quite able to track him, as he is an expert in disguising himself, but he comes out of hiding repeatedly to spread his message and his mission. His pranks are never lethal, but they can often bear interesting consequences for those who fall prey to them. He continues to seek new disciples, helping others in their journey of self-discovery, whether they want it or not. The best parallel is probably Coyote, from the legends of the Native Americans of the Southwest.
Klepnos has also busied himself as an information broker. Anyone who does as much wandering as the Master of Folly is likely to pick up juicy tidbits here and there, especially since he can take on virtually any form he desires and thus go almost anywhere. Modern security systems can do little to stop one with his level of power, so even the secrets of the world are laid open before him (with a few rare exceptions, most notably the private files of Agemnos, Talia, Kyia and the Lothanasi, all of whom have wards that are effective against his intrusions). Klepnos actually likes Kyia quite a bit, and so he often contacts her privately with "urgent messages for her eyes only". About half the time these are nonsense or utterly useless data — the price of haddock in Isenport, for example, or the number of horseshoes that have been replaced in the last month in Flatlands province — but the other half is actually solid, valuable information that proves quite useful to Kyia. Sorting out the useful from the useless is, of course, an exercise that Klepnos has left to the Majestrix.
Word has spread about Klepnos's mysterious messages, and some people of suitably chaotic bent have been drawn to follow Klepnos and offer their services to him. These he accepts as boon companions, sending them far and wide to be his eyes and ears throughout the world and equipping them with the tools and magic necessary to do the work he wants them to do. In this way, over the last hundred years or so, Klepnos has put together quite an impressive network of informants and spies. Of course, about half of the time the work he assigns them is apparently pointless, but what do they care as long as he's paying them well?
As for where Klepnos gets his money, that's something of a mystery, but Imperial analysts suspect it comes from a combination of selling his unique services to wealthy customers, and the payoff from some of his more creative gags — but nobody knows for sure. Certainly some of it could come from the stock markets of the world, since a man with as much insider information as he has could make a fortune in trading. It's not as if anyone can arrest him for it…
Lilith (Undead, Dark Nature)
Lilith is dead; she was overthrown in the early 700s by Talia, a renegade Lightbringer priestess, shortly after the Great Fall.
Nocturna (Dreams, Omens)
Nocturna's influence over the mortal world is negligible, as she has no desire for corporeal power. She has her hands busy just trying to keep the Dreamlands in order, and keep the Great War from spilling out into the material world. After the murder of her first mortal daughter by Talia's hand, she has remained within the walls of Metamor itself, almost never leaving the opulent splendor of her home within the Citadel. She leaves it to Malger (Dream), her consort, to travel the world and aid in her cause. Together, they work to prevent the release of any sort of magic or technology that would grant mortals unrestricted access to the Dreamlands. Nocturna has become one of Kyia's closest friends and advisors, as well, as she has one of the most detailed, intricate, and accurate information-gathering resources on the planet: dreams.
Malger oversees Nocturna's network of Dream Walkers -- both Nocturna's own children, and a small group of humans who have proven themselves capable of defending themselves from the constant strife in the Dreamlands. These Dream Walkers gather and disseminate information through the dreams of chosen individuals. Ethically, this may be questionable, but it's done anyway
Unfortunately, while dream-control software (being produced by a few key spelltech firms around the world, and tied up in perpetual legal battles by Nocturna and her allies) has not yet opened the doors of the Dreamlands wide to the general public, it has allowed the paranoid to barricade themselves away from the Dreamlands. (A dangerous side-effect of this is insanity -- deprived of dreams, the mind turns on itself.)
Oblineth (Winter, the Void)
Oblineth is an avatar in the Metamor Empire, and the Chief Administrator of the protectorate of Arabarb. She has largely reformed from her days as a daedra lord, and is a very competent (if rather unemotional) viceroy.
Revonos (Rage, Death)
Revonos is dead, having been killed off by a White battlemage during his wanderings through the Southlands in the mid-900s. His power has passed among several great wizards of the Southlands since that time, and is currently held by the battlemage-ruler of one of the larger dictatorships in that region. The fact that the power's owners have used it frequently over the centuries has kept them weaker than some of the other members of the Pantheon.
Many mortals believe that, after he died, Revonos was too full of rage to ever pass over into the afterlife; instead, he took over Nocturna's old job as psychopomp, harvesting the souls of the dead and ushering them on to the rest he can never have. In present-day artwork he is often depicted wearing a black shroud and carrying a scythe, the "grim reaper" of Metamor's world.
Rickkter (War, Honor)
Rickkter inherited the position of the God of War from Dokorath. Being a god didn't really change Rick all that much -- he has lived out a mostly happy life with Kayla, to whom Kyia gave just enough of her own power to ensure that she never ages. Rick and Kayla withdrew from public life until 1001, when Kyia asked him to become the head of the Metamor Army. Today he serves as the Empire's Minister of Defense.
Rickkter went through a particularly bad experience a couple of centuries back: In 1795, after a long and particularly draining battle with the then-current holder of the Revonos power, he was betrayed by a group of powerful mages who had fought alongside him in the battle. Striking quickly while the avatar was already battered and weary, they were able to incapacitate and immobilize him. Rick awoke trapped in a cave of some sort, within a mystical prison -- one powerful enough that he was unable to break through in his weakened state. The mages who betrayed him stood by and watched, garbed in black, their faces cloaked, their minds unreadable. And there was Something Else in there with him...
Rick's captor was none other than the spirit of Nasoj, but the Dark Wizard had by that time been so transformed by the power of the adjacent Nexus that Rick was unable to recognize his aura. Neither Nasoj nor his servants ever revealed their identity or purpose to him, but for 70 years they kept him in daily torment as they performed one ritual after another in a vain attempt to transfer Nasoj's essence into Rick's body. Generations of mages came and went, trying new variants on old spells and occasionally something completely different. Rickkter's will was too strong for them to succeed, though, his power too great even in weakness. Eventually they realized that it was hopeless, and they abandoned him there, leaving him with only Nasoj's ghost for company. The Wizard made sure that Rickkter never grew strong enough to escape.
Three years after he was abandoned by the cultists, in 1868, Rick was found by Murikeer in the depths of the Sepulcher, beneath the ruins of Nasoj's citadel. It is unknown how Muri was able to break the walls of the prison and extract Rickkter without being captured himself, but the long-standing mystical connection between Muri and Nasoj probably has a lot to do with it. Muri brought the unconscious Rickkter back to Kyia's Citadel, where he soon revived under the care of the Majestrix. Murikeer has never told Rickkter, or anyone else, where he found him, for fear that Rick would try to obliterate the Sepulcher, possibly killing Muri and/or releasing Nasoj in the process. Rick treated Muri with deep anger and distrust after that, even vowing to kill the skunk if he ever saw him again -- he knew Muri had deep feelings for Kayla, Rick's wife, and suspected that Muri had ulterior motives for letting him stay locked up for so long. In the end, though, he restrained himself at Kayla's request, and in the last sixty years he and Muri have finally come to a truce.
Samekkh (Wisdom, Light)
Samekkh is the High Lord of Pyralis, a protectorate within the Empire. His realm encompasses only the original city-state of Pyralis and a small region of its surrounding lands, not the entire area that was once controlled by the Pyralian Confederation. After the Great Fall he spent many years in the company of his current Oracle, Ophelia; he eventually developed a deep bond with her that most would call love, and apotheosized her to be his immortal consort. He came to Pyralis when the Confederation was self-destructing, around 1200 CR. The suggestions he made for reforming the government proved to be successful, and he was then elevated to High Lord by public acclamation. He brought Pyralis into the Empire by treaty in 1693.
Suspira (Passion, Desire)
Suspira has her own sensualist cult, the Church of Hedonism. While generally frowned upon by most of society, the Hedonists have a substantial membership from all social classes: corporate and government VIPs, middle-class professionals who yearn for a taste of the wild life, and disaffected lower-class workers from the inner cities. While their meetings are clandestine, it's fairly easy to become a member -- they take out ads in papers all across the western world, and their domain on the WorldNet (MK2K's cyberspace) is well-known. Hedonists actively (but usually discreetly) seek to bring others into the cult, since every new member is a new source of power for their Mistress. The upper levels of management in the Church are filled with incubi and succubae.
Talia (Nature: Competition & Predation; Undead)
Talia is the Vampire Queen and the Mistress of Dark Life, a position she stole from Lilith when she killed the daedra lord with the assistance of one of Lilith's own artifacts. The attack was motivated by revenge: Lilith had imprisoned Talia and her mother and brother in soul gems during the Battle of Three Gates, where they remained trapped for years. Talia's soul was restored to her body by her sister, Raven hin'Elric, and the Necromancer Rickkter, shortly after the Great Fall. Unfortunately, the act proved to be misguided, as nine years of imprisonment in the soul gem had driven Talia into severe solipsism. Unable to accept the world she had been returned to as anything other than a deranged fantasy of her own mind, she did not feel bound by the moral strictures of the civilized world. When the opportunity to exact her revenge on Lilith presented itself, she took it -- she may not have believed it was really happening, but it would feel satisfying nonetheless. She was quite surprised when she found that killing Lilith granted her the power and position of the Vampire Queen -- power she immediately began to use to her own whimsical ends. Being granted the abilities of a goddess, after all, gives you a very big sandbox to play in...
After several failed attempts to take over the world during the early 700s, Talia finally regained her sanity through the actions of her sister Raven and the god of wisdom, Samekkh. Sickened by the deaths she had inadvertently caused, Talia rejected the path of war and conquest, and even forebade her vampire subjects from killing mortals unless she commanded it. She later turned her focus toward the conducting of "quiet business", organizing her disciples into a worldwide underground organization. The Church of Eternal Brotherhood, as it is called, is a fusion of secret society, religious cult and organized crime syndicate, with Talia as its head and the vampires as its ruling class.
Most people are aware of the vampires now, who are often employed in the highest levels of the business world and use their political power to ensure equal rights and protections before the law. The CEB itself keeps a low profile, generally known only as a social club that is active in charity work. While some of its trappings are seen as a little strange, and the membership of the vampires in the church is generally known, most people are content to dismiss it as a harmless, benign organization.
Behind the scenes, though, the CEB is heavily involved in organized crime. With arms involved in gambling, prostitution, drugs, racketeering, graft and a thousand different "respectable" commercial ventures, the CEB is enormous beyond all comprehension. All of the profits of high-level Church members and Church-run businesses go to Talia, who then distributes finances back to her disciples according to their level of productivity. She is generally quite beneficent with her followers, and most of them are fanatically devoted to her. Talia lives in a large mansion in Elderwood, the entirety of which is owned by the CEB (along with the Forest of Darkness and numerous mana-rich parts of the world). One of the CEB's ongoing areas of study involves the Nexuses, which Talia hopes to one day be able to tap into at various locations around the globe, expanding her divine power. She is already the most powerful member of the Pantheon, however, and has little to fear from any rival.
Tallakath's whereabouts are unknown. He has been suspected of fomenting a number of the most destructive plagues in human history, and of promoting the idea of germ warfare in general, but if so he has succeeded in keeping a low profile. Not even Klepnos seems to have any notion of where he is. Given his morbid fascination with death and dying, it seems likely that he is acting as a sort of wandering scholar, bearing witness to the atrocities of human history for the sake of intellectual discovery.
Velena (Love, Beauty, Truth)
Velena is a walking apostle of universal harmony. Having learned humility from centuries of living among humans, she works tirelessly to promote peace and love throughout the world. Her organization, the Hope Foundation, is a non-profit venture with chapters all over the Empire and Quenardya, which works to promote peace in the war-torn Southlands, charity to the poor and needy at home and abroad, and cultural exchanges to promote understanding between nations. While no longer holding herself up as a religious icon, Velena is greatly loved by most of the people who know of her. A humble, selfless Mother Teresa with the photogenic, vibrant nature of Princess Diana and the motivational speaking ability of the Dalai Lama, she is perhaps the most widely recognized personality of the modern world.
Wvelkim (the Sea)
Wvelkim is the king of Maeriliala (MARE-ee-lee-AH-la), or "Aquaria" in the Common tongue -- the Maeril (merfolk) nation whose communities are scattered throughout the world. Most Aquarian citizens live a simple lifestyle that has changed little over the centuries, but every Maeril may travel to the capital city (Neriisiliala) and petition their king for a redress of grievances. Some Maeril communities are beginning to modernize, making use of technomagic to construct beautiful, elaborate cities beneath the ocean surface -- but this new way of life has yet to reach the majority of the population. Wvelkim uses his position to ensure that the oceans are protected from exploitation by the surface dwellers; any commercial fishing, oil drilling, or other invasive activity must be approved by the Sea King, and he reserves the right to revoke this permission if it is abused. Many surface-dweller nations and megacorps resent the Maeril's strict regulation the marine habitat, but Wvelkim has Kyia's backing -- any attack on the Maeril is considered an act of war against the Empire itself. In the last 150 years or so, no one has been brave (or foolish) enough to challenge this.
Yajiit (Fire, the Sun)
Yajiit lives a quiet life among the dragons. Wielding no political power in the Dragon Federation, she is nonetheless highly respected by these noble creatures and is welcomed wherever she goes. A small community of humans live with her, embracing the same simple life that she pursues and enjoying fellowship with her in a family-like setting. She is a mother and a sister to them, even a lover to some, but never a goddess -- she revels in the simple pleasures of being mortal.
The spoken word is not used among Yajiit's people, except in teaching the young and dealing with outsiders; Yajiit believes that "tongues multiply lies", probably due to her negative experiences with Samekkh and Kammoloth's manipulations. Her people use a form of sign language that is both visual and tactile, so it is impossible to communicate without the use of touch -- something that Yajiit considers very precious, since she was unable to touch anyone when her power was at full strength.