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Voodan Roleplay Resources - The Cult of the Loa
« on: December 29, 2018, 01:07:47 PM »
The Voodan
The Cult of the Loa

Not all faiths honor the gods directly. In many cultures, spirits of the natural world and messengers of the gods are far more heavily involved in mortal affairs than are the gods themselves. Why pray to a deity who does not hear, when you can direct your petition to the entity that god placed as lord over luck, or death, or rain or wealth? If you seek succor in the depths of a swamp, should not the swamp itself be the recipient of your pleas?

On Prisoners of the Mists, there are two great families of loa, the loa of Souragne, which grant power to all characters from Ravenloft and all other settings, with the exception of Gothic Earth voodan, and the loa of Gothic Earth, which are only available to Gothic Earth natives.

Contents:

Sources: Dark Tales and Disturbing Legends, 3rd Edition Ravenloft Campaign Setting, 3rd ed. Ravenloft Dungeon Master Guide, Dance of the Dead, Night of the Walking Dead, Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium II, Green Ronin's Skull & Bones, Dungeon Magazine #71
« Last Edit: November 05, 2020, 08:06:34 PM by EO »

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The Voodan Character
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2018, 01:09:23 PM »
The Voodan Character


A divine caster who worships neither gods nor nature itself, but rather spiritual entities who fall somewhere in between, the voodan is possessed of only limited spellcasting ability, but has other mystic capabilities granted by the loa, spirits of the natural world. The voodan does not deny the existence of greater powers such as deities; he simply chooses to focus his veneration on beings nearer to him.

Disclaimer: Just as the standard cleric of d20 fantasy does not represent a true priest of any realworld religion, so too is it vital to remember that the so-called "voodan" of Souragne — while clearly inspired by the beliefs of Vodoun as it is practiced in the Caribbean and the American south — are not meant to accurately recreate or represent it. The loa of Souragne are not the loa of Vodoun; the Lord of the Dead is not Baron Samedi, for instance, nor does the Maiden of the Swamp correspond to any true loa. As are the deities presented in the core D20 rules, the loa presented here are fictional.

Alternatively, you could choose to play a Voodan from Gothic Earth (more information can be found below), more in keeping with a real world houngan, and have him worship the Baron, or Legba, or any one of the hundreds of loa honored in vodoun. You could also choose to play a cleric who worships Jesus, or a paladin who follows Vishnu. Remember that unlike its fictional counterpart in the Ravenloft setting, Vodoun is a living and thriving religion, with sects and variants that encompass millions of worshippers.

Adventures: Most voodan tend to remain relatively close to home, sometimes because they serve as community leaders, often because the power of the loa —less than that of a god — is limited to a certain geographical area. Adventure often comes to them, however, as the voodan is frequently responsible for protecting his people from spiritual and supernatural threats. Those who do go out into the world seeking adventure may be acting in the interests of one or more of their patron loa, but may simply be seeking their own fortune. The loa rarely restrict the behavior of their followers, so long as they are granted proper respect and the voodan does not act in ways completely contrary to his patrons’ interests.

Characteristics: Voodan are incredibly powerful spellcasters, though they cannot cast as swiftly or as flexibly as the other casting classes. Given sufficient time to prepare, however, their mastery of both the spiritual and natural worlds makes them exceedingly potent.

Many voodan serve to protect their homelands, and most come from relatively wild regions. Thus, voodan are all reasonably adept at combat, though they are proficient with fewer of the tools of war than their clerical counterparts.

Alignment: Voodan can be of any alignment; the loa run the entire gamut of moral and ethical behavior, so a voodan can always find kindred spirits from whom he can draw power. Very few voodan are lawful, simply by virtue of the fact that they tend to develop in wilder, less urban regions, but this is not a requirement of the class. Good voodan usually aid their neighbors and serve as protectors and advisors, while evil voodan often hire themselves out as "witchdoctors," providing curses and foul mystical concoctions to anyone who can pay.

Religion: Voodan worship the loa, spirits put in place by the gods to serve as messengers, caretakers and guardians of the physical world. The voodan acknowledge the gods’ existence, but they never pray directly to them. As emissaries of the divine, the loa are responsible for heeding and granting (or refusing) petitions. On Prisoners of the Mists, Voodan must always pick one of the Loa of Souragne, regardless of their setting of origin, with the exception of Gothic Earth Voodan who can either select a loa form the list of Gothic Earth loa or the Loa of Souragne.

Voodan do not choose a single, specific loa to whom they grant the entirety of their veneration. Rather, voodan tend to call upon whichever loa is appropriate to their current circumstances. (A voodan lost in a bog might call on the Maiden of the Swamp, even if he normally devotes most of his veneration to Kurkva, the Wailing One.) Voodan do, however, choose a particular loa to whom they feel closest and devote more of their efforts and ceremonies to that loa in particular. It is this "patron" loa that grants the voodan most of his spells.

Lastly, the folk of Souragne offer praise to the spirits of the swampland and pray that when they die the Lord of the Dead will not come to force their bodies to toil in the fields until the flesh drops from their bones.

Background: As worship of loa tends to be a cultural phenomenon, most voodan-to-be realize at a relatively young age that they feel a particular pull toward the faith and petition one of the local voodan to accept them as a student. Some do come to the calling at an older age, but this is relatively rare.

Most voodan come from relatively rural or wild environments. Worship of the loa is far more common in small villages on the edge of civilization than it is elsewhere; only a handful of sizable cities claim the faith as their dominant religion.

Voodan do not congregate in great church hierarchies. Most temples to the loa are maintained by a single voodan, or perhaps a voodan and his students. While all voodan respect one another as servants of the loa, they feel no intrinsic sense of loyalty, and two powerful voodan might be bitter rivals as easily as they might be allies.

In Souragne, the voodan are the dominant mystical power, and while some worship kind loa, many more adore spirits of a more primal, more malevolent aspect. Few in Souragne worship gods, leaving the voodan the only divine casters whose services can be regularly acquired.

Races: In the Ravenloft setting, in which Souragne is the only domain from which voodan hail, humans make up the entirety of the class. (If any nonhuman voodan do exist, they are so rare as to make up a statistically negligible proportion.) In other settings, elves, half-orcs and halflings from wilder regions sometimes gravitate toward worship of the loa. Gnomes and dwarves rarely find the faith appealing, but some of the monstrous humanoid tribes adopt it.

Other Classes: Voodan get along reasonably well with arcane spellcasters, as they believe that arcane magic simply represents a different means of borrowing the loas' power. They are less sanguine around clerics or druids, believing such individuals to be either disrespectful of the loa, or deluded regarding the source of their power. All others, they tend to judge on a case-by-case basis, though they often have much to discuss with rangers, who frequent the same sorts of areas and do not rely as heavily as druids on divine magic not granted by the loa.

Role: The voodan’s role in a party varies considerably depending on which spells he can access at a given time. Some may serve as healers, others as combat casters, still others as scouts. Because they see themselves as closest to the entities that dictate the course of the natural world, voodan often see themselves as natural leaders, or at least as guides and advisors to those who command.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2020, 05:47:28 PM by EO »

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The Loa of Souragne
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2018, 01:10:18 PM »
The Loa of Souragne


As mentioned above, the religion of the domain of Souragne does not make use of any loa worshipped in true Vodoun, but a pantheon unique to the Ravenloft setting. The loa of Souragne number in the thousands, representing all manner of natural forces, locations and concepts. Many communities worship their deceased ancestors as loa. As such, it would be impossible to present anything resembling a comprehensive list here. For voodan and other characters from Souragne, however, we present here a selection of the greatest loas of the Souragnian faith, equally useful in a Ravenloft campaign or any fantasy game with a Vodoun-bent.

The loa are spirits, with no true physical form of their own. In many celebrations, worshipers leave themselves spiritually open, allowing the loa to temporarily possess them, serving as "mounts" while the spirits enjoy the sensations of the flesh.

The Maiden of the Swamp

Seen as somewhat flighty and unpredictable yet ultimately benign, the Maiden of the Swamp is one of the two most widely worshipped loa in all Souragne. She holds dominion over healing, those lost in the wild and growing things. Some view her as a servant of the Lord of the Dead, one who handles those tasks to which he is ill-suited; others consider her the only being of Souragne who can thwart his will. The Maiden is portrayed as a beautiful yet hauntingly sad woman of fey mien, clad in the simple attire of the lowest-born peasant.

Alignment: Chaotic good.
Schools: Abjuration, Conjuration, Enchantment
Domains: Animal, Healing, Plant

The Lord of the Dead

The other of Souragne’s greatest loa, the lord of the dead is the single most dominant power of the entire faith. All those who die in Souragne are left unburied for four days, so that the Lord of the Dead may claim them as his own, should he choose. Many ceremonies serve no purpose other than to appease him. The Lord of the Dead is portrayed as a walking corpse in old-fashioned but well-kept finery.

Alignment: Lawful evil.
Schools: Divination, Enchantment, Necromancy
Domains: Death, Knowledge, Repose

Brahmbei, the Oracle

The shaper of fate and the seer of all things to come, Brahmbei was once the most powerful of the loa. He has grown old, however, and his powers have waned before those of the Lord of the Dead and the Maiden of the Swamp. Brahmbei is still a potent figure, however, and the people of Souragne pray to him for luck and knowledge. Due to his age, Brahmbei does not see as clearly as he once did and is prone to occasional fits of absent-mindedness. Further, he has been known to deceive those seeking knowledge, if he doing so serves to direct them toward their eventual destiny. He is portrayed as a kindly old man, occasionally doddering but still possessed of a powerful presence and piercing gaze.

Alignment: Lawful neutral.
Schools: Abjuration, Divination, Illusion
Domains: Knowledge, Law, Luck

Kurkva, the Wailing One

Kurkva is the rain, the clouds and the open sky. Once wed to the earth itself, or so legend has it, he lost his beloved when she splintered into many smaller loa (including the Maiden of the Swamp and numerous lesser loa of specific places and animals). Thus does Kurkva always grieve; the winds are his cries, the rains his tears, the thunder his shouts of anguish. Despite his grief, however, Kurkva continues to do his duty to the world, directing his rains and winds where the natural order requires they fall. Followers pray to him for all matters relating to rain and weather. He is portrayed as a middle-aged man clad all in white.

Alignment: Neutral.
Schools: Conjuration, Evocation, Transmutation
Domains: Air, Travel, Water

Lethede, the Lady of Roads

The wanderer and patron of travelers, Lethede is not an especially powerful loa, but she is very widely revered. Those far from home, those lost, and those whose loved ones are absent pray to Lethede. She is also patron of those who must undertake a spiritual journey, or face an upcoming life change. Lethede is portrayed as a darkskinnedyoung woman, her garb somewhat beaten and worn from travel, but her features tireless and determined.

Alignment: Lawful neutral.
Schools: Abjuration, Conjuration, Transmutation
Domains: Protection, Strength, Travel

Madris Orundi, the Dancer

Easily one of the most popular of loa, if not the most popular, the Dancer is the patron of artists and lovers. She is muse, inspiration and matchmaker. Her most frequent prayers come from young people requesting that she ensure that the object of their affections return those feelings, but she listens equally to old married couples and artists seeking a creative spark. She is portrayed as a woman in early middle-age, still possessed of the beauty of her younger years, but with the grace, poise and wisdom of one who has had some time to live in the world.

Alignment: Neutral good.
Schools: Divination, Enchantment, Illusion
Domains: Good, Luck, Protection

Ohuwaghnn, the Serpent King

Reviled as few other loa are, Ohuwaghnn represents the dangerous beasts of the swamp and, by extension, the hazards of the wild in general. While he has a few devout followers, most who pray to him seek to propitiate him, to turn his wrath aside, rather than to ask any true boons of him. Ohuwaghnn despises most of humanity and seeks a return to primal days when people dwelt only in scattered communities (if they lived at all), and the beasts of the wild dominated the land. He is normally portrayed as a great serpent, though he also appears in a few images as a gaunt man with reptilian eyes.

Alignment: Chaotic evil.
Schools: Divination, Necromancy, Transmutation
Domains: Animal, Destruction, Trickery

Ovun Borundir, the Warrior

Evoked by those who are going into battle, professional soldiers and brawlers alike, Ovun Borundir is the patron of all who live and die — and kill — by violence. He is not evil per se, but neither does he favor those who fight for righteous causes. In his eyes, it is not the reason for battle, but the battle itself, that is worthy. He is portrayed as a large man clad in armor, carrying a great mace and pierced by various swords and spears that seem to bother him not at all.

Alignment: Chaotic neutral.
Schools: Abjuration, Evocation, Transmutation
Domains: Protection, Strength, War

Sehkelo, the Queen in Gold

Mother of the rebellious and violent Tonthomba, Sehkelo is revered as the sun, the disperser of darkness, the queen of the sky. (She is also mother of the loa of the moon, but he is not considered a primary loa and is not included here.) Although she brings the oppressive heat of the long Souragnian summer, this is considered a necessary evil to her presence and her efforts to banish the darkness. She is the patron of those who seek to thwart evil and who seek knowledge for the betterment of all. She is portrayed as a blonde warrior woman clad in golden raiment, carrying a spear.

Alignment: Lawful good.
Schools: Abjuration, Divination, Evocation
Domains: Fire, Sun, War

Tonthomba, the Burning Man

One of the wildest of the loa, Tonthomba is as capricious as the flame he represents. He is vital to civilization, providing light in the dark and heat in winter, but he is also one of the world’s greatest destroyers, easily angered, difficult to control. He is revered by all who use fire, which means nearly all civilized men and women pray to him at some point. He is particularly worshipped by pyromaniacs and devotees of chaos and destruction. He is usually portrayed simply as a great being of flame; when he appears as human, it is as a muscular young man with deep red hair and flaming eyes.

Alignment: Chaotic evil.
Schools: Conjuration, Evocation, Enchantment
Domains: Chaos, Destruction, Fire

Ulwaddithri, the Consuming One

The Lord of the Dead may be the most feared of the dark loa of Souragne, but Ulwaddithri is the most reviled. The Consuming One represents the poisonous air of the deep swamp, the wasting touch of sickness, the hollow suffering of famine. She is plague and want and all things unwholesome. Many Souragnians pray to her, not to invoke her, but in hopes of assuaging her and directing her attentions elsewhere. Very few who are not hopelessly mad worship her as their primary loa. Ulwaddithri is portrayed as a beautiful, seductive woman, save for her left arm and leg, which are wasting away to disease and rot.

Alignment: Neutral evil.
Schools: Conjuration, Necromancy, Transmutation
Domains: Death, Evil, Trickery

Minor Loa

These loa are described briefly in different source books but no actual statistics are provided for them, and as such for now cannot be selected as patron loa.
  • Loa of the Moon (Dark Tales and Disturbing Legends)
  • Longears (Dance of the Dead)
  • Bouki (Dance of the Dead)
  • Bushtail, Loa of the Foxes (Dance of the Dead)
« Last Edit: August 09, 2020, 04:00:20 PM by EO »

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The Gothic Earth Voodan
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2018, 01:16:07 PM »
The Gothic Earth Voodan

Voodan is a study of the spirit, both within the flesh, and without it. Like many faiths, Voodan seeks to explain the origins of the soul. Though the African, Arawak and Carib foundations of Voodan are ancient, they have only recently begun to blend, and Voodan is not acknowledged as a formal religion in the Skull & Bones campaign setting. Many of the priests of the old African gods have been chained and sold as slaves in the New World. Their various tribal beliefs have meshed with the spiritual teachings of the native Arawaks who have all but died, leaving only their gods to mark their passage. The beliefs of the Caribs, who gave their name to the islands and archipelagos that were once theirs, also strongly influence Voodan, for they still live and teach their lore to those they deem worthy.

Voodan practitioners worship the Loa and revere the dead. The Loa are powerful spiritual beings, gods, and archetypes of human experiences that have enough connection to the material world to still understand and sympathize with humanity. The followers of the Loa also believe in a greater god that created the universe, who is known by many names: Olorun, Onyama, Mau-Lisa and Khardun to name a few, but they also believe that god has more important matters to attend to than providing rain for a farmer’s crops. The Loa are seen as divine servants of the creator god, and it is they who handle the problems of worshippers.

Voodan holds that all humans have two different energies within them that, along with the flesh, sum up their being: the gros-bon-ange or ‘soul’ and the ti-bon-ange or ‘spirit’. The gros-bon-ange is a perfect spiritual copy of the individual from which it comes. It is the totality of one’s experiences, abilities and intelligence, but it has no concept of morality. That belongs to the ti-bon-ange, which is the seat of conscience. The ti-bon-ange is universal and cannot lie. When a person dies, it is their ti-bon-ange that watches over the body for nine days while the gros-bon-ange, if properly tended, moves on.

Gros-bon-anges make up the ranks of the dead. They dwell in the spirit world, waiting the day that their descendants will have them called up to take their place in a sacred govi. If a person is greatly revered, the ceremony for this typically takes place a year and a day after their death. Many of the dead have descendants who either don’t care about them, or who cannot afford the proper ceremonies. Most untended gros-bon-anges fade away, but the strongest-willed may fight their way back to the world and interact with the living, particularly their descendants.

An ancestor in a govi is consulted for many things, since the dead have a great deal of wisdom. As time passes, those who knew a given ancestor pass on themselves, and the memories of life slowly fade from the dead one’s being. Eventually, they either become tired and rest forever, or grow in authority and power until they shatter the frail govi that holds them and they take their place amidst the Loa. Thus, Voodan can be viewed as a lifelong perfecting of one’s gros-bon-ange for ascension to the ranks of the Loa. All servants of the Loa believe that if they live their life as best they may, serve well, and help their people, then they will one day join with the gods. It is never so simple however. Not every soul burns bright enough to become a deity. Many simply become part of the Loa that are already in existence.

As an example, let’s say there was once a great warrior named Iyasus, who was beloved by his people and feared by his enemies. When Iyasus fell, he was properly interred, his gros-bon-ange well tended and he was sent into the spirit world for a year and a day. When the time was right, Iyasus will take his place in a govi and advise his descendants for several generations. Eventually, Iyasus will no longer remember walking the earth as a man, though memories of the battlefield will remain with him. If he remains strong, the day will come when Iyasus will break his govi, and ritual celebrations will raise him to the ranks of the Loa. Clearly, Iyasus’ life marks him as one who belongs to the family of Ogun. If Iyasus was truly strong willed, and distinct from attributes that are ascribed to Ogun, then he may join the Loa as Ogun Iyasus. However, if he were a great man, but didn’t bring anything original or new about battle or power with him, than what he was would simply become a part of the archetype known as Ogun.

Voodan practitioners have a practical relationship with their gods. They expect favors and assistance from the Loa in both the material and spiritual worlds, and in exchange they will help sustain the Loa with belief, service, and sacrifice. Despite their spiritual nature, the Loa grow hungry and need sustenance. To determine what is needful, Voodan practitioners and the Loa themselves turn to those who have chosen (or have been chosen) to act as emissaries between the two worlds: hougans and mambos. Hougans are male priests, and mambos female. Despite their gender distinctive titles, they serve the Loa in the same capacity. All Voodan practitioners are said to serve the Loa, but hougans and mambos have “taken the asson”. They arrange the regular ceremonies at their peristyle in which they celebrate the Loa and make offerings to them. These offerings are frequently grain and other foods, but on special occasions chickens, goats, and bulls may be sacrificed. There are dark sects that sacrifice human beings, but most followers of the Loa would never consider such a vile act.

On occasion, the Loa like to stretch their limbs and walk around in a physical body. One of the more infamous aspects of Voodan is the “possession” that occurs when a Loa displaces the gros-bon-ange of a follower (or ceremony bystander) and “rides” them. The Loa often refer to their servants as “horses” though this isn’t meant as an insult. It comes more from the common understanding that a Loa “rides the head” of an individual they’ve possessed. A person ridden by a Loa becomes capable of remarkable, even impossible, feats. No one ridden by the Loa remembers what occurred while they were possessed. Their gros-bon-ange is completely displaced during the period of possession; they are effectively “missing.” While hougans can talk to Loa that they’ve called into a govi, they frequently take the time when Loa are “in the flesh” to discuss problems with them and barter for future favors. Note that the Loa seldom have set preferences for the horses they choose to ride, and gender is meaningless to them. Ogun may ride an old woman as readily as a powerful young warrior. If the Loa have any reason for why they choose particular horses, they don’t make it known. Sometimes, a Loa will favor a specific individual. When this occurs, the Loa is the “master of their head.” The Loa take great interest in their favored horses, frequently coming to their assistance but also making their life difficult.

The Loa are said to live “in guinea” when they are not roaming the world, guinea being the spiritual reflection of the continent of Africa. The many “families” of Loa reflect their origins. They are frequently named for the region from which they came, or the tribe that worshipped them originally, before they were brought to the New World. There are literally countless Loa, and their numbers change constantly. A selection of the most powerful and influential Loa is detailed in the next section. For the purposes of the Skull & Bones setting, there are four major groupings of Loa: Old World, New World, Djab, and the exceptions.

With the Golden Age of Piracy about to begin, it is a dark and wondrous time for the Servants of the Loa. They frequently have to meet in secret, concealing their beliefs from the “civilized” people around them. Slaves, escaped and otherwise, the natives of the Caribbean and the rare white followers of the Mysteries are all working together to form a new religion. It is time in which many voices are crying out for vengeance and for justice, but most of all, for freedom. It is a time of great deeds and bitter sacrifices. It is a time of mighty horses.

Voodan Lexicon

Many of the terms used here may be unfamiliar to you. Here is a quick guide to the essential terms of voodan.

Asson (ah-sahn): A ceremonial rattle, usually comprised of a dried calabash (a large gourd), filled with snake vertebrae and wrapped in a net of beads. To "take the asson" is to formally become a hougan (priest) or mambo (priestess) of the Loa.
Baka: An evil spirit animal or demon.
Djab: Spirits capable of physically manifesting themselves on Earth. Djab are dangerous and only bokor deal with them with any regularity.
Govi: A red clay jar that acts as the "throat" of the Loa, allowing them to speak to the material world without possessing a host. A govi can also be inhabited by a gros-bon-ange.
Gros-bon-ange (grow-bon-Onghe): The "soul" of an individual.
Horse: When a Loa possesses a person, forcing out their gros-bon-ange, they are said to "ride their head" thus making the ridden one a "horse."
Hounfour (hoon-four): The innermost room of a site where Voodan is practiced. More commonly, it refers to the entire site, including the sanctuary, peristyle and surrounding landmarks.
Mystere (mee-STAIR): One of the many names for the Loa.
Olorun (oh-loh-RUN): One of the many names for the being who created the universe. All the Loa are, in theory, its servants.
Peristyle: A roofed, opensided court in which most ceremonies and dances celebrating the Loa take place.
Poteau-mitan (poto-mitan): The brightly colored center post of a peristyle. It is supposedly the "road" through which the Loa enter a hounfour. Considered sacred to Legba.
Ti-bon-ange (tee bon Onghe): The “spirit” of an individual. It is the seat of morality and consciousness, and cannot lie.
Vever (vay-vay): A sacred design formed by carefully pouring wheat or corn meal onto the floor of a peristyle before a ceremony. The design is a symbolic representation of the Loa it is meant to invoke, and every Loa has a unique verver associated with it. Multiple ververs may be created for a single ceremony.
Wanga (wan-ga): A magic spell.
Zombi (zom-bie): An individual whose gros-bon-ange has been stolen or destroyed, turning him into an undead servitor.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 02:27:37 PM by EO »

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The Loa of Gothic Earth
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2018, 01:17:04 PM »
The Loa of Gothic Earth

The Old World Loa

Consisting mainly of the spirits of ancient Africa, who've changed a great deal in the last few decades, the Old World Loa are dignified and somber. Many of the African tribes have been so decimated by the slave trade that they no longer remember the proper forms of worship for what were once their cherished tribal deities. Those who survive the dark journey across the Atlantic have gathered together with the faithful remains of other tribes in an ongoing attempt to remember their old ways. The tribes whose beliefs have remained most intact are the Dahomey, Nago, Dantor, Ibo, and Congo. Their rites are mainly referred to as ‘Rada', which is a reference to the Dahomey coast of Africa. Where their worshipers go, so too go the Loa. Their servants now reside in the Caribbean, far from the sacred waters beneath guinea, and their needs are greater than ever before. The Old World Loa are determined to not fail their charges, no matter how strange their environs may be or how distorted their ceremonies have become.

Agwe, Lord of the Sea, Master of the Tides

Patron of all seafarers, Agwé's verver is carved into many a hull that plies the Caribbean. His mighty ship, the Immamou, sails on the great winds that his conch shell horn summons. Agwé is not capricious, as many beings associated with the sea are. Strong and eternal as the tides, he is the steady friend that can be relied upon when great storms threaten. Agwé neither judges his followers nor demands much of them. He is married to La Siréne, the watery aspect of Erzulie, and is widely regarded as the model of what a good husband should be, especially considering he continually forgives her eternal affair with Ogun.

Behavior while riding: Agwé speaks with an echoing voice, his words seemingly conjured up from the deepest trenches. He immediately douses himself in water and seeks a shady space to sit in. He loves singing and will go out of his way to talk with skilled musicians. Cloths of blue and white please him, especially if they're adorned with seashells.
Favored sacrifices: A massive feast of exotic foods prepared by the petitioner and submerged beneath the waves in a ceremonial barque. An oar covered with intricate engravings by the petitioner and tossed into the sea at sunset.

Alignment: Lawful Neutral.
Schools: Conjuration, Evocation, Transmutation
Domains: Air, Water

Damballah, the World Serpent and Ayida Wedo, the Rainbow

Damballah Wèdo, the Great Sky Serpent, is as ancient as the vault of the heavens. He is the primordial father, benevolent and wise, innocent as no other can be, for he is so removed from the world's daily concerns that he cannot comprehend the troubles of his human followers. He is the greatest good, without evil or malice. His wife, Ayida, is the rainbow born the first time Damballah shed rain onto the world. She is patron of the waters from the sky, a dancer formed of light who brings joy and wonder into dark hearts. Their eternal coupling represents sexual and cosmic totality, represented best by the world serpent egg with is their symbol. They, along with Badessy the Wind, and the brothers Sobo and Agarou Tonerre, are all that remains of an ancient pantheon, from a time when the world was a simpler, more elemental, place. To invoke any of them is to reach into the distant past and touch the original myths of humanity.

Behavior while riding: Damballah is a snake. He will immediately immerse himself in a basin provided for that purpose and then will either writhe upon the ground, or climb the nearest high tree, which he will do without using hands. His speech is an inarticulate hissing, and exact meanings are impossible to determine. He must always be clothed in white and covered with a sheet if he wishes to eat. Invariably, he will only accept eggs. Ayida's speech is accented with hisses, but easy to understand, she loves bright colors and fast dancing. The pair will almost always arrive together.
Favored sacrifices: A rare egg painted all the colors of the rainbow, then served raw amidst a light rain. A crystal carved by the petitioner into a snake-like shape then tossed into the sea.

Alignment: Damballah: Lawful Good. Ayida: Chaotic Good.
Schools: Damballah: Abjuration, Divination, Enchantment. Ayida: Evocation, Illusion, Transmutation.
Domains: Damballah: Good, Healing, Protection. Ayida: Air, Water.

Erzulie, The Tragic Mistress, the Queen of Beauty, Lady of Luxury

Erzulie is the Loa of love and beauty, specifically perfect love and unattainable beauty. She is an innocent living in a perfect world that her servants create for her, but inevitably, she realizes that the perfection she seeks doesn't exist and bursts into tears. Erzulie is a representation of the unattainable. Knowing that they are unlikely to have wealth and luxury in life, her followers raise their dreams of something better to Erzulie as she dwells in guinea. Erzulie has been romantically associated with many of the Loa at one time or another. Her watery aspect, La Siréne, is married to Agwé, who dotes upon her.

Behavior while riding: Erzulie's followers always try to maintain a luxurious room, with attached bathroom, for her. She will immediately walk into her room, making herself over till she is satisfied, before she immerges. Erzulie seeks to be surrounded by mirrors and finery. She favors handsome men and skilled dancers. She cannot stand rudeness or impropriety, though her forward behavior towards her beloved followers, including stroking them suggestively and lavishing kisses upon them, can unsettle some. She loves desserts and sweet drinks, though she hates hard liquor and drunkenness. After she has enjoyed herself for a time, Erzulie will inevitably burst into tears, proclaiming that she isn't loved enough. No amount of protestations to the contrary will convince her otherwise. Eventually she will forgive, sigh, and depart.
Favored sacrifices: A rare and expensive perfume from across the sea, scattered about a site of great natural beauty. A mirror created by the petitioner, with a beautiful and unique shape.

Alignment: Neutral Evil.utral Evil.utral Good.
Schools: Enchantment, Illusion, Transmutation
Domains: Trickery, Good, Protection

Legba, Lord of the Crossroads, the Wandering Sun

The significance of the crossroads is universal in Voodan. Legba, as Lord of the Crossroads, is the being through which all prayers to the Loa pass. He is the guard of the border between spirit and flesh. The center poles at every peristyle are dedicated to Papa Legba, and while he can open the doors to the Loa, he can also close them. He is also the sun deity of the Old World Loa. The daily course of the sun from East to West is reflected in Legba's frame, which is old and crippled from symbolically walking over the world for so long. He is spoken of in many tales, most of which hold useful truths about the world, usually buried amidst fanciful myths. He walks with a cane as gnarled and twisted as himself.

Behavior while riding: Legba speaks like the old man he is, occasionally halting or forgetting what he was saying. His back is always bent, and the first object he'll reach for is a cane. He likes to sit in the sunlight and drink warm rum while chatting. He'll happily accept good tobacco.
Favored sacrifices: Bury the bones of either a hero or a villain the petitioner knew and fought with, at the crossroads. Three silver coins, each acquired in a different way and presented at the crossroads with a different story.

Alignment: True Neutral.
Schools: Divination, Enchantment, Necromancy
Domains: Knowledge, Sun, Travel

Ogun, the Master of Iron, Lord of Fire, the Wounded Hero

Ogun is the great artificer, forger of mighty weapons. Ogun is the slaughterer, the embodiment of the raw joy of battle. His legend started in ancient times on the plains of Africa, where even as a mortal man he was believed to be a God. His works and deeds associated him with strength and fire. When he joined the ranks of the Loa, he inevitably became the patron of warriors and blacksmiths. Ogun is involved in a love triangle with Agwé and Erzulie, made all the more bitter since Agwé is a being of watery aspect. Ogun is invoked to protect those setting out on long journeys. He detests liars and thieves, and is not overly fond of pirates. Still, Ogun is just and he judges individuals on their merits and circumstances. Ogun has always been associated with power, no matter from what it stems, and as the years roll on political aspects of Ogun have begun to make themselves known. There are a number of different Loa that are associated with Ogun or aspects of him. Ogun-Shangó, for example, is the patron of thunder and a dangerous being to deal with.

Behavior while riding: Ogun always stands straight, but he has a wound in his side and it occasionally pains him. He always takes note of his surroundings before speaking; making certain that he won't be ambushed or surprised. His voice is strong and demanding, but his laughter is long and loud. He will immediately arm himself, preferably with a sword, though he is beginning to like guns. It is impossible to lie directly to Ogun. He delights in beautiful women and will goodnaturedly flirt with them. He loves rum and favors the color red.
Favored sacrifices: A masterwork iron weapon that was forged by the petitioner. The charred bones of an enemy slain by the petitioner's own hands.

Alignment: Chaotic Neutral.
Schools: Abjuration, Evocation, Transmutation
Domains: Earth, Fire, Strength, War

The New World Loa

The New World Loa were born from the pain of the lash, the rage of the enslaved, and the courage of men and women who sought freedom at any cost. Born too, from the manipulations of one legendary man, whom tales say lives even now somewhere in the Caribbean: Dom Petro, the Indian hougan. Many of the practitioners of Voodan believe that Dom Petro formed the Loa of the New World from the gros-bon-anges of the countless dead who've died under the yoke of slavery. As a gardener seeks a single perfect rose amidst his flowers, so Dom Petro supposedly culled the ranks of the dead. He searched for the most powerful souls, ones that he could tend and shape until they were ready to take up the tasks he set them. Others whisper that this is blasphemy—no man would dare to give birth to gods. However they came to be, the New World Loa are called the Petro nation and they are dangerous beings to deal with.

Ashadeh Boco, The Hidden Fire

There are many fires in the West Indies. Fires of rebellion, fires of passion, fires lighting secret peristyles late at night, and fires in the hearts of those who would be free. Ashadeh Bòcò fans the heat of these myriad flames. She is the burning need that drives the artist to create, and the slave to escape. She is the Loa of fiery inspiration, the mystery who whispers of what may be to those who are shackled and despairing. She is greatly loved by her petitioners, but always treated with caution, for the same fire that comforts on a cold night can scorch the careless.

Behavior while riding: Ashadeh Bòcò loves writers, artists, and leaders. She loves to dance about large fires and favors loose clothing that twirls close, often dangerously close, to the flames. Recently, she's been introduced to flintlocks and cannons, which she adores.
Favored sacrifices: A work of art by the petitioner that inspires others to action. A great conflagration, as big as a galleon or better, that will serve no purpose other than to create heat.

Alignment: Chaotic Neutral.
Schools: Conjuration, Evocation, Illusion
Domains: Fire, Knowledge

Baron Samedhi, The Zombi Lord

If darkness has a name, it is Samedhi. While most of the Petro Loa are dangerous, Samedhi is downright evil, delighting in terror and misery. He directs most of his wrath against the enemies of his people, but he has no problem scaring the occasional petitioner to death. The faithful simply note that it is dangerous to waste the Baron's time. He is connected to Ghede in many ways, though no one truly knows the nature of their relationship. Samedhi created the first zombi by destroying the gros-bon-ange of a man he was asked to kill, and ever since he has been associated with them. He is one of the three bokor patrons, and those who actively follow him are vile beyond redemption.

Behavior while riding: Baron Samedhi is intensely but disturbingly charismatic. His eyes are deep, lightless wells that give off no reflections. He has a macabre sense of humor and is nearly impossible to offend. He believes that subtlety is a greater virtue than power, and delights in sharp verbal entendres. He also deeply respects passion, even if it is turned against him. Samedhi favors meats that have been charred to cinders and he always wears black. Sometimes he paints his face white and he frequently wears a pale top hat, though whether he does so to honor or mock Ghede is unknown.
Favored sacrifices: A smoldering fire made from rare woods and kept burning for weeks at a time. Death and lots of it.

Alignment: Chaotic Evil.
Schools: Illusion, Necromancy, Transmutation
Domains: Death, Evil, Knowledge, Undeath

Carrefour, Lord of the Midnight Crossroads

Keeper of the gates through which the foulest denizens of the spirit world pass, Maître Carrefour is the Petro counterpart of Legba. Carrefour's lot is to stand watch over spirits who deal in bad luck, terrible violence, and senseless destruction. He is one of the three patrons of the bokor and it is he who allows them to traffic with demons. Yet, it is also Carrefour who protects the faithful from the very beings that he lets into the world. Carrefour's existence is a constant reminder to his followers that they must live each day as it comes, for the future is never certain. He is not evil, but he is cynical and bitter. Some hougans believe that Carrefour was once the Rada deity Kalfu, and that Dom Petro offered him great power at the price of twisting his nature forever. Considering Maître Carrefour's personality, it seems possible.

Behavior while riding: Carrefour always stands tall with his arms outstretched as if to form a cross. His whole frame shivers with barely suppressed power. It is impossible to smile in his presence, and those who try to whisper end up shouting instead. He loves the color black, and rum mixed with goat's blood. He has no discernable sense of humor.
Favored sacrifices: Inflict a particularly gruesome death that leads to a greater good. Trace Carrefour's verver out at a crossroads in the blood of at least two different outsiders that the petitioner killed.

Alignment: Lawful Good.
Schools: Conjuration, Divination, Necromancy
Domains: Destruction, Good, Protection

Congo Zandor, Lord of the Scarlet Fields

Pain is a constant companion to many of the followers of the Loa, and whether it comes from the kiss of a whip or sharp pangs of hunger, it reminds them that they are alive. Congo Zandor is the lord of pain and sacrifice. Because of the hard work involved in tilling the fields of the Caribbean, he is also a patron of agriculture. Those who regularly give thanks to Congo Zandor believe that life is suffering, but also demand that their suffering lead to something more. To those who toil and ask for nothing, he gives the strength to endure.

Behavior while riding: Congo Zandor favors a pipe filled with strong tobacco and a peristyle with lots of dancing room, so he can leap about kicking up dust. Most prefer to let him dance as his conversations always dwell on gruesome subjects and he is inclined to masochism. Hougans always watch him carefully, lest he hurt his horse. He can be surprisingly sympathetic at times, especially with petitioners who have suffered great losses.
Favored sacrifices: Scatter the blood of an enemy the petitioner has crushed to death over an empty field. Make a sacrifice that greatly wounds the petitioner, either physically or emotionally.

Alignment: Lawful Evil.
Schools: Abjuration, Evocation, Transmutation
Domains: Earth, Plant, Strength

Dan Petro
Titles: None: he is himself, the world be damned.
So favored by his "father" (Dom Petro) that he bears the family name, Dan Petro is the Loa of freedom. This freedom can take many forms: freedom from slavery, freedom from the shackles of the world, and freedom from the self. Dan neither judges nor preaches, he simply accepts what is, while forever striving for what could be. If a deity can be described as a dreamer, then Dan Petro surely is one. He encourages his followers to travel the world seeking their own answers instead of looking to the Loa for them. Dan Petro has no title, he is himself, the world be damned.

Behavior while riding: Dan is so unassuming that he seldom announces his arrival till the party is in full swing. He is usually genial and delights in getting drunk on good rum while talking with widely traveled individuals. He is always full of questions, eager to know what people think and what they've seen. He often wears a red kerchief around his neck.
Favored sacrifices: Destroy a pair of shackles that held a slave the petitioner helped free. Tell a poem or story that Dan has never heard before (at the GM's discretion) at the crossroads.

Alignment: Chaotic Neutral.
Schools: Divination, Illusion, Transmutation
Domains: Luck, Travel

The Exceptions

Eventually, the separate branches of Voodan, often called the "left and right hands", will come together and a single hougan will be able to pay homage to Legba one night and Dan Petro the next. As discussed in the section on hougans, there is still a distinct separation between the Old World and New World Loa. However, there are some Loa who make themselves available to both "hands" and others who just don't care for mortal distinctions. Both Old World and New World hougans and mambos can call all of the Loa in this section.

Ghede, The Laughter of the Grave, The Lord of the Dead

Perhaps the most famous of all the Loa, Ghede is the Loa of death and sexuality, obscene and serene at the same time. He is the trickster without equal, laughing at any and all regardless of how important they think they are. The only thing that makes Ghede serious for any length of time is a threat to children, and then he is terrible to behold. If he is properly convinced, Ghede can ‘refuse to dig a grave' and thus, prevent death. Because he embraces life in the midst of death, Ghede is called upon when powerful healing is required. Despite many personal faults, Ghede has the wisdom of all those who have ever died, and his council is sound. He has many aspects, and the family of Ghede is large, including Baron Samedhi as well as a number of others. One of his easier aspects to deal with is Brav Ghede, a more over-the-top heroic version of the Loa, given to great exploits and less vulgarity, but little to no wisdom.

Behavior while riding: Ghede is vulgar and coarse, frequently telling dirty jokes at his servant's expense. If he decides someone makes a good target, he'll pick on him endlessly until they pay him to go away. He frequently shows up at ceremonies for the other Loa, sometimes to disrupt them, sometimes just to watch. He is forever ravenous, as Death is always hungry. When he dances, he grinds his hips and pelvis, occasionally pausing to hump the ceremonial drums. Ghede wears dark coats, white gloves, and black top hats. He always carries a cane, and frequently smokes a cigar or pipe. He speaks in a high-pitched nasal voice and is forever laughing at his own jokes. Ghede expects to be stuffed with food. He favors hot peppers that have been soaked in rum, as well as the rum they were soaked in.
Favored sacrifices: Save the lives of many children. Play an epic and original trick on those who oppose the practitioners of Voodan.

Alignment: Chaotic Neutral.
Schools: Conjuration, Divination, Necromancy
Domains: Death, Healing, Knowledge, Trickery

Loco and Ayizan, The Great Patrons

Loco and Ayizan are the companions of Papa Legba. They assist him in his duties, for he grows old and sometimes forgetful. While they are mostly associated with the Old World Loa, they are acknowledged in the new as well, for Loco is the first hougan and Ayizan is the first mambo. Loco is a great healer and a master of the asson. He controls the poteau-mitan, which is the center-post of a peristyle and is the spot by which Loa enter. Thus, he regulates which Loa can come and go. Ayizan is the protector of sacred places and the guardian of the rites. She insures that all goes smoothly and bestows harmony on all around her. She empowers women and ensures that mambos are given their due respect.

Behavior while riding: Loco and Ayizan always arrive together. Hougans must be at their best when Loco is around, for he is an exacting taskmaster and will punish laziness or improper etiquette. He likes butterflies and sweet wine. Ayizan is far more relaxed than her husband. She is swift to laugh and will take a shot or two of rum if offered. She gives advice to pregnant women and talks with mambos about their concerns.
Favored sacrifices: Widely distribute a new technique for healing. Discover a useful medicinal herb and share it with other hougans and mambos.

Alignment: Neutral Good.
Schools: Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination
Domains: Good, Healing, Knowledge

The Marassa, The Divine Twins

The Marassa are the first born of Olorun and thus, the first dead. They are acknowledged at every Voodan ceremony, regardless of whether the hougan serves the Old or New World Loa. They represent the split between the physical and the spiritual, and the bridge between humanity and the divine. The Twins are innocent and new, regardless of how ancient they truly are. As the eldest dead, the Marassa are considered even stronger than the other Loa, though their power is tempered by their nature. The offerings at Ghede's death rituals are made to the twins before any others, even before Legba.

Behavior while riding: Those few who are ridden by the Marassa speak in singsong voices and play children's games. They occasionally make prophetic or insightful phrases couched as poetry.
Favored sacrifices: Candy, candy, and more candy! Save many children from death or slavery.

Alignment: Chaotic Good.
Schools: Evocation, Necromancy, Transmutation
Domains: Death, Good, Trickery

Simbi, The Great Serpent, He-Who-Straddles-the-Waters

Simbi the magician stands at the exact center point of the crossroads, balanced between light and darkness, between the sea and the sky, and between heaven and earth. He is the quicksilver messenger who makes the impossible real. Simbi is one of three bokor patrons. His dominions overlap many others, but always with subtle differences. Like Ayida he is a patron of rain, but his rains are always a precursor to the storm. Like Agwé he is associated with the sea, but unlike Immamou's captain, he swims under the waves, exploring the mysteries of their depths. Standing as he does at the center of all things, he perceives many truths clearly, but this has made him wary and reticent of speech for he has found many times that those who seek knowledge, misuse it.

Behavior while riding: Simbi is shy and chooses his words carefully. He looks for a cool spot out of the sun and favors cold water. He likes games that require strategy and will happily play for hours if introduced to one. He frequently answers questions with questions, and occasionally utters phrases that seem like non-sequitors at the time, but often become relevant days, or even weeks, later.
Favored sacrifices: An ancient turtle shell, carved with a powerful mystic secret the petitioner has learned, then flung into the sea. Create a riddle that holds great insight when solved.

Alignment: True Neutral.
Schools: Divination, Evocation, Illusion
Domains: Knowledge, Magic, Water

Source: Green Ronin's Skull & Bones
« Last Edit: August 09, 2020, 04:56:38 PM by EO »