Author Topic: Cult of Zhakata - Roleplay Resources  (Read 11839 times)

DM Macabre

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Cult of Zhakata - Roleplay Resources
« on: November 26, 2007, 05:52:53 AM »
Since many players and DMs lately wanted to know more about the cult of Zhakata and the god himself, I start in summing up some information on the cult from different ressources. Hope they can help new Zhakateans and bring also a good overview to DMs.

Description of the religion

Quote from: Religions of Ravenloft POTM
    * Worship Centers: G'Henna
    * References: Realm of Terror, Ravenloft Campaign Setting, Circle of Darkness, Domains of Dread, 3rd ed. Ravenloft Campaign Setting
    * Alignment: Lawful Evil
    * Cleric Domains: Destruction, Earth, Fire, Protection
    * Symbol: Small reliquary containing human finger bones
    * Favored Weapon: Flail

Quote from: Ravenloft 3rd Ed. Campaign Setting
The stony wastes of G'Henna are littered with the towering statues of the beast-god Zhakata, who is always depicted as a monstrous creature squatting atop a pile of bones. Zhakata is not worshipped; he is appeased. The people of G'Henna believe that Zhakata exists in two aspects: the Devourer and the Provider. Sadly,, G'Henna has experienced only the Devourer. Zhakata demands endless sacrifice, usually foodstuffs but occasionally of living creatures. The Devourer is a god of cruel austerity; all crops must be donated to the priests of the great Temple of Zhakata, who deduct Zhakata's share, then dole out the rest back to the starving populace in meager portions. Buying or selling food is a religious offense. Obesity is an act of sacrilege.
The people of G'Henna continue to make their painful sacrifices to Zhakata in the desperate hope that someday they will indeed appease him. On that legendary day, Zhakata will walk G'Henna in physical form and transform himself into Zhakta the Provider. Generations of G'Hennans have starved themselves to death in the hopes of someday earning the era of plenty that would follow.
In G'Henna, people observe no difference between civil and religious law. However, all clerics must still defer to the commands of Zhakata's high priest, Yagno Petrovna.
Symbol: Small reliquary containing human finger bones.
Favored Weapon: Flail

Quote from: Religions of Ravenloft POTM
Notes: The beast-god Zhakata is the state religion of the famine-striken nation of G'Henna. G'Hennans state that Zhakata has dual aspects: that of Devourer, and that of Provider. Unfortunately, they have only experienced his Devourer aspect. As the Devourer, Zhakata is not worshipped, he is appeased. His endless hunger demands constant sacrifice, whether it be food or humans. All crops must be donated to the Temple, where the priests deduct Zhakata’s share and then dole out the rest to the starving population. Buying and selling food is a religious offense, and obesity is the ultimate act of blasphemy. G'Hennans believe that their painful sacrifices will one day finally appease Zhakata. On that day he is supposed to appear in physical form and change into Zhakata the Provider and give generous amounts of food to his worshippers. For generations the people of G'Henna have starved themselves in the feeble hope that this day will come. G'Henna is a theocracy. Clerics of Zhakata are the law, and they eat well, taking their portions of food before handing it back to the peasants. All clerics must defer to G'Henna's lord and master, the high priest Yagno Petrovna.


Quote from: Ravenloft - Circle of Darkness
Everything in G'Henna centers around the worship of Zhakata. Religious ceremony dominates even the smalllest social functions, from running a household to making wine (once G'Henna's major export). Dominant in this society is sacrifice to Zhakata and fasting or starving to honor the Great One.
Traditionally, a family member volunteers to fast for up to two weeks as a sacrifice to Zhakata; if great favor or honor is desired, this family member will starve to death. Dying of starvation is thought to bring great blessings to the person's family. The skulls of those who starve to death are made into guesting cups, while finger bones and vertebrae are worked into intricate designs above doors and beds. These decorations are quite becoming - until one notices the material used. The deceased are remembered in prayers as "the thrice-blessed dead."
In daily worship, peasants surrender their food to the priests, who "serve" it to the Beast-God at sunrise in private ceremony. This ritual is known as Zhakata's Taking.
In reality, the priests sacrifice only a meager portion at Zhakata's altar, dividing the rest among themselves and the soldiers. Whatever Zhakata does not require before day's end is then given back to the starving populace, in the sunset ceremony known as Zhakata's Dole.
All crimes are blasphemies against Zhakata. The worst and most quickly punished crime is the heresy of believing in Zhakata's two aspects, that of the Devourer and that of the Provider. The second worst crime is buying or selling food. The worst criminals are stripped of their dignity and transformed into grotesque mongrelman. Citizens scorn and abuse these wretches, and any who offer shelter or food to theres mongrels shares in their abuse.
Is is obscene and blasphemy to be overweight. Fat strangers suffer Reaction penalties (-1 to -3) in addition to a -2 suffered by all foreigners.
It is illegal to buy or sell food in G'Henna. This is punishable by a severe fine, imprisonment, and heavy labor on minimal rations. Prisoners often die from this treatment before their sentences are over.

DM Macabre

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Re: Cult of Zhakata - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2007, 08:28:13 AM »
The land of G'Henna

Quote from:  Ravenloft 3rd Ed. Campaign Setting
702 G'Henna appears
745 The demon Malistroi attempts to conquer G'Henna with a fiendish army

The land

Quote from:  Ravenloft 3rd Ed. Campaign Setting
Cultural Level: Classical (4)

Full Ecology (Temperate Hills, Plains, and Mountains). G'Henna is a bleak, windbeaten wasteland, a domain where hunger and hardship are ways of life. Legend states that the rampages of the beast-god Zhakata the Devourer wreaked havoc on the once fertile land.
Constant, brutal gales blow across G'Henna's chill plains, bending the stunted grasses and brown shrubs. The rocky, dry soil is poor for both farming and grazing; herds of emaciated cattle and goats roam the wastes forlornly. Craggy uplands rise up like broken teeth throughout the domain, casting gray shadows across the land. The domain is covered with desolate stretches of cold desert, salt flats, and fields of fine, windblown ash. Savage windstorms scream out of the wastes, burning the skin and driving even stalwart herdsmen to safety. The silty, brackish waters of the Eel's Flow and Drogach Rivers meander through the badlands, providing little nourishment to the surrounding farmsteads.
Zhukar is G'Henna's solitary city, and its fearful populace is ruled by starvation and miserable submission. The grim buildings are constructed of massive stone blocks roughly hewn and pale dun in color. Everywhere are carvings of monstrous stone faces bristling with horns and tusks. Colossal pillars and intricate mosaics of polished bone adorn the grander buildings. Beyond the city, many G'Hennans dwell in round tents of ragged hide, which can be easily packed up and moved when folk must search for better grazing grounds. Although chill, G'Henna's climate is temperate overall. Its winters, however, are unforgiving. Wind temperatures drop cold enough to crack stone, and the muddy rivers freeze completely through.

Major Settlements: Zhukar (pop. 10,100)

The Folk: Population: 19,500; Humans 98%, Other 2%. Languages — Balok,* Falkovnian. Religions — Zhakata.
G'Hennans are lean and gaunt, their features sunken. Their skin is fair, though often with a faint sallow, ruddy, or dusky tone. Raw windburns commonly afflict those who dwell on the plains. G'Hennans' eyes are always exceptionally dark and often black as midnight. Their straight hair is a drab gray-brown or flat black in color. Men keep their hair short and slicked back and wear long, closely trimmed sideburns. Mustaches are not uncommon, but all married men wear a beard, which is waxed stiffly into a long braid. Women grow their hair to a moderate length, pinning it up under thin shawls. G'Hennan clothing is humble and often drab. Men wear blousy white shirts, vests with stiff collars, wide trousers, and short boots. Older men also wrap themselves in long, woolen robes and don small cloth caps. Women wear long dresses with wide hems and high collars, usually over baggy pantaloons. Those who must survive on the bitter wastelands don long, thick coats and round fur hats. Clothing is always neutral in color: black, white, beige or brown. Jewelry is rarely seen except among Zhakata's clerics, who wear grisly ornaments crafted of human bone and teeth.
G'Hennans live in fear of Zhakata the Destroyer, a ruthless beast-god that exists only to annihilate whatever they toil to produce. All aspects of life in G'Henna are shaped around endless supplication of Zhakata. This constant devotion wears visibly on the G'Hennans. Grim and humorless, they have neither the time nor the inclination to savor pleasures such as dance or song. The horrors of starvation and the bottomless cruelty of Zhakata's clerics have long ago broken the spirits of most folk. Despite this, they have many sacred traditions, which are adhered to with solemn strictness. Mealtimes are hallowed events, and families gather dutifully, squatting on woven carpets at a low table, to partake of the meager fare. One of the most sacred heirlooms a family can possess is the guesting cup, a chalice made from the skull of an ancestor who was martyred by starvation.

The Law: Theocracy. Yagno Petrovna, Prophet of Zhakata, rules G'Henna from Zhukar, his divine word regarded as the supreme law of the land. Petrovna is a passionate zealot blessed with feverish visions of the Destroyer.
Three times a week, he preaches of Zhakata's boundless fury before the city's assembled throngs, working himself into a roaring fit of religious fervor. Petrovna sits atop the mammoth religious hierarchy of Zhakata's church, guiding it as the living voice of the Destroyer. There is no authority in G'Henna save that of the church. Clad in their distinctive vestments of scarlet and orange, clerics and holy warriors perform all military and civic duties. Petrovna also has a secret order of cleric enforcers known as the Inquisition. Unlike most of the church hierarchy, they operate from the shadows, vigilant for heresy and dissidence.
Zhakata is a feral, destructive god who eagerly tears down whatever the G'Hennans build and devours whatever they produce. To placate him, the G'Hennans are expected to donate all the food they produce directly to the church, which receives the offerings in a sunrise ceremony known as Zhakata's Taking. Whatever food remains by sunset is returned to the people as Zhakata's Dole.
Fasting is a sacred sacrifice in G'Henna, and the Inquisition harshly punishes black market dealings in foodstuffs. The worship of any gods but Zhakata is forbidden, as is the practice of arcane magic. Once a week, Petrovna performs a horrifying miracle, transforming a criminal into a deformed abomination as a sacrifice to Zhakata. The only persistent hostilities the church encounters are from the barbaric bandits who dwell deep in the hinterlands. Hatefully atheistic, these raiders conduct a clandestine war of attrition against the church and Petrovna. Little is known of their cunning and shadowy leader, who is simply called the Jackal.

Trade and Diplomacy:
Resources — wheat, corn, oats, turnips, potatoes, sheep, goats, cattle, wine, beer, iron, copper, lead, iron goods. Coinage — stoneclaw (gp), irontusk (sp), bonefang (cp).
G'Henna has struggled to maintain contact with the realms of the Core in the hope that commerce will bring desperately needed food to the domain. Most merchants prefer to leave the domain to its fanatical clerics, however; the land produces few resources that cannot be obtained in more hospitable lands. Petrovna cares nothing for his realm's standing among outsiders. His only concerns are to ensure that Zhakata is properly venerated and to maintain order within G'Henna; the Inquisition hastily removes any foreigners who interfere with either task.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2007, 08:42:12 AM by Azmodiel »

DM Macabre

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Re: Cult of Zhakata - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2007, 10:42:36 AM »
Statue of Zhakata


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Re: Cult of Zhakata - Roleplay Resources
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2008, 08:09:15 PM »
Yagno Petrovna

« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 11:24:46 AM by EO »