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Children of Atruaghin

by Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies

Worshipped in: Land of Atruaghin

The Children of Atruaghin are a group of tribes of Oltec-Azcan descent who live in the region to the southwest of Darokin, closely around the Sacred Plateau of Atruaghin. Although among the five Atruaghin clans that have different mores and customs, four of them (the Children of the Horse, Bear, Turtle and Elk) share the cult of the ancestors and spirits, a mysticism that unites them all in the definition of Children of Atruaghin. Indeed the members of these four clans firmly believe that Atruaghin, a legendary hero of the past, had used his own divine powers in order to save them from destruction or slavery, and had raised the Sacred Plateau in order to protect them from the neighbouring nations and from the humanoid raiders. Before he left and was welcomed among the Immortals, Atruaghin had given to their ancestors the knowledge of the Spirit World, and it is on the basis of this knowledge that has shaped the culture and the mythos of the Children of Atruaghin. According to the legend, one day Atruaghin will return among his people in order to lead them in a great battle against the forces of evil that have corrupted their brothers of the Clan of the Tiger and destroyed their far-off homeland from which came Atruaghin, and on that day the ancestor and nature spirits will rise up against Evil at the side of the just for the final victory. According to the Atruaghin mythos, nothing is more important than the concept of spiritual totem. Indeed, the Children of Atruaghin believe that every person is bound to an animal spirit and that has in him both the gifts and the weaknesses of that spirit, given that every living being is inextricably bound to the nature spirits. These spirits have frequently shown up in the life of a human being, but only the more receptive are able to understand the messages and of interacting with them. Every person therefore is called to identify and respect their own personal totem, and from it in exchange will be protected and helped.
Whenever an Atruaghin speaks of a totem, he is usually referring to his personal totem, which nevertheless is not the only one to influence the life of the Atruaghin. Indeed, the Atruaghins are divided into tribes (small groups united by family ties and alliances that live together in the same area) and into clans, that is a union of the tribes on the basis of sharing one legendary forebear (Ahmanni Turtle-rider for the Turtle, Mahmatti Elk-runner for the Elk, Tahkati Storm-tamer for the Horse and Hattani Stoneclaw for the Bear). Because of this, every Atruaghin also has a tribal totem (usually chosen based on one of more common species of the habitat in which the tribe lives) and a clan totem, which should be similarly respected.
If a Son of Atruaghin respects the totem to which he is bound by right of birth it can have several benefits, and vice versa if he doesn’t do this he must attract on himself countless curses, based on the type of totem offended:

Personal totem: the character has a natural affinity towards his animal totem and every time he encounters it, it will not attack him, but always move further away. If however the subject chooses to attack the animal, he benefits from a free attack, after which the creature will react in a normal as provoked. However, attacking his own animal totem in effect means that he is assaulting his own soul, given the mystic bond between the two, and therefore this involves the loss of a number of XP equal to the value of the creature rather than a benefit.
Moreover any subject who makes an amulet using parts of the animal totem (fur, feathers, hair, paw, etc.) earns a bonus of +1 against any Saving Throw while wearing it. This amulet, naturally, only functions in the favour of the person bound to that type of animal.

Tribal totem: in this case the affinity of the character towards the tribal totem is minor given that it is associated to an entire group of people. Because of this, every time he encounters the animal there is only a 50% chance that it will not attack him but flee away instead. If nevertheless the subject chooses to attack the animal, he benefits from a free attack, after which the creature will react in a normal as provoked. If the animal is not disturbed however, continues to do what it had in mind as if the character is not even present, until he decides to disturb it, in which case it reacts normally.
Furthermore, no XP is awarded for defeating their own tribal totem, and indeed the members of the tribe consider the killing of this animal a bad auspice, since it attracts misfortune over the entire tribe.

Clan Totem: the importance of the clan totem depends on the fact that these animals were spiritually linked to the same founders of the various clans who now watch over the Atruaghin. However, while every member of a clan is called to respect the sacred animal of its founder, he doesn’t have towards the subject the same regard that he has with his personal and tribal totems. In practice there is no benefit in the encounter with a clan totem. It is nevertheless severely forbidden to slay the animal symbol of his clan: those that perpetrate this grave crime are exiled from the community and become wanderers: no other clan will want to accept these renegades and usually they become solitary hermits or they join a band of travelling foresters. The foreigners that kill the clan totem instead are put to death, and the method in which they are killed is based on the type of death given to the animal (especially if it has suffered at length, the guilty also suffers before death, if instead the death is judged quick, then the guilty could gain a pain and agony free execution).
There is finally another peculiarity of the Atruaghin mysticism: the totem brothers. When two Children of Atruaghin share the same personal totem, they are called totem brothers. This tie is extremely more important than any blood relationship, and in the Atruaghin culture there is nothing more loyal and reliable than a totem brother. No lie, omission or any form of deceit is allowed between two totem brothers, and in effect the spiritual bound between the two is so tight that each are always able to feel inside if the other is lying. Obviously, betraying a totem brother is a horrible crime according to the laws of Atruaghin, and those found guilty of it deserve only death.
Among all the Children of Atruaghin only some are thus in tune with nature and the spirits and can correctly interpret their voice and guide the person to the encounter with the proper totem: the shamans, men of superior knowledge that act as spiritual leaders. The shamans are considered blessed individuals by Atruaghin, since they have received the gift of wisdom and of empathy with the spiritual world. For this reason, for the Children of Atruaghin nothing has more value than the word of a shaman of Atruaghin, since he has all the knowledge used in order to live in balance with the surrounding world and with the spirit world.
Two types of shaman exist among the Atruaghin: the spiritual shaman (see the section on Shamanism) and the shaman of Atruaghin. The former are individuals personally touched by the gift of communication with the animal and nature spirits, which however haven’t been instructed in order to become a spokesman of Atruaghin. The faithful respect him like a cleric of another clan patron, especially given their mystic tie with the forces of nature (much more marked than that the simple clerics enjoy), but no one has more power within the tribe of the shaman of Atruaghin. Who is any individual preselected by the great father of all the tribes in order to carry his wisdom and voice among his people, and therefore enjoy the esteem and respect of any Atruaghin, with the exclusion of the members of the clan of the Tiger (which instead has rejected Atruaghin and are only faithful to Atzanteotl and Danel). A shaman of Atruaghin is to all effect a specialist cleric devoted to the Immortal, but the powers conferred to him by the divinity are so different from those of a normal priest to make him rather a cross between a cleric and a spiritual shaman. The wisdom of Atruaghin runs through these shamans, who are frequently deputed to judge any contest that takes place within the tribe. No higher shaman exists to whom all the others give obedience, since they believe that the only one who is elevated above the shamans is Atruaghin himself, and therefore all his heralds have equal importance. The shaman of Atruaghin is the voice of the spirituality of each community (there is at least one in each tribe, who usually surrounds himself with of two or three adepts who take his place or go and carry the wisdom of Atruaghin with other tribes) and also the acknowledged head of these villages (usually the strongest warrior or the wisest elder) must bow before the advise given by the shaman, believing that they come directly from Atruaghin.
A shaman of Atruaghin is distinguished from the other followers since he normally is dressed in only animal skins, doesn’t wear armour, just uses tools and weapons derived from nature (from wood, stone or bone) and always has with himself the holy symbol of Atruaghin, a tomahawk with a band of feathers on the stone head.
Based on the clan that is examined, it is possible to find a majority or a minority of shamans of Atruaghin in respect to the specialist clerics of thee Immortal patron of that clan, as explained below:

#The clerics present in the clan of the Tiger are mainly followers of Atzanteotl, and hold the true power over the members of this community, always being both the tribal heads and the acknowledged spiritual heads (even if each tribe is independent and no high cleric exists who governs all the clan). The few clerics of Danel always have a minor role and are deputed to the training of the men in the arts of war and hunting, and generally have tasks that concern the defence of the clan and open conflict. The clergy tolerate the presence of spiritual shamans, also given that the Children of the Tiger are profoundly bound to the mystic of the totem animals, but hunt in a ruthless manner any foreign cleric or shaman of Atruaghin who adventure in their territory.