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Karimari Cult

by Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies

Worshipped in: Ulimwengu (Serpent Peninsula)
The Karimari are a pigmy people hidden in the heart of the Serpent Peninsula who have evolved there for millennia without contact with the outside, creating an extremely simple culture and bound to the surrounding natural environment that has always fed, protected and hid them from the eyes of the neighbouring predators. Because of this the Karimari cult concentrates itself on worshipping the land, Ulimwengu (which means “world” in their language), which watches over them and supplies enough to satisfy any of their requirements. Therefore the Karimari don’t have any reason to worship any divinity (and as a consequence none of them has ever sought to ascend among the Celestial Spheres), and the place of the Immortals in the Karimari mythos is taken by Ulimwengu.
For the Karimari, the land in which they live is alive and it is their mother, their fellow and the daughter of each of them. On one hand the land produces that which they require in order to live and raises them as a kind mother, on the other hand they cure it and love it as they would with their own children. Following the example of Ulimwengu, the Karimari seek only to achieve a balance with Creation, and in order to do this they respect the laws of nature and endeavour to maintain the natural balance around them. When a Karimari dies, he simply returns to the earth in order to recommence the life cycle, and is carefully laid down in a hole after having been exposed to the final goodbye of their beloved in a bed of petals and leaves. The moment of the separation is sad, but presupposes a new rebirth in Ulimwengu, in the form of an animal, plant or human being. Because of this the Karimari accept the death however it happens, believing that it is simply a ritual of passage in order to approach a new phase of the life cycle of which all play a part. For this same reason, no Karimari priest ever seeks to return to life those who have been taken by death, since it would be equivalent to upsetting the natural cycle (the Karimari are therefore bitter enemies of the undead).
The Karimari priests are all druids and acquire their powers from their land. They are able to achieve miracles because they are in tune with the earth, and therefore are able to lawfully alter the balance in order to produce the desired effects, in such a way as to return things in the best of ways. The Karimari druids however don’t lose their powers once outside of the Karwana Mulumba (that is Guardian Trees, an enormous circle of magical trees that surround the entire Ulimwengu and hide it from the eyes of any enemy), as long as they remain intimately bound to the power of nature and of the universal balance. The ruler of the Karimari is always a druid and usually becomes the highest level druid in the region, a reference point for the entire Serpent Peninsula.
The truth about the source of power of the Karimari priests resides in Kereenyaga, that is the Rock of Mystery, which lies at the centre of the circle of the Guardian Trees, about 8 km to the south of Shani Kijiji, the capital of the kingdom of Ulimwengu. Kereenyaga is a 30 metre high granite monolith eons old, which instils reverence and a certain fear in all the Karimari. Many of them also call it the Heart of Ulimwengu or the Son of the Thunderbolt, and according to the Karimari mythos the soul of Ulimwengu is contained within it. In effect this belief corresponds to the truth.
Before the arrival of sentient species in the world, Mystara was a living creature, a monolith (immortal beings similar in all respect to a planet) called Urt. During prehistory, a meteorite struck Urt in such a violent manner that it penetrated its protective mantle (the terrestrial crust) provoking a collapse of the core in which it housed its spirit. On the request of Urt, the Immortals transferred its vital essence elsewhere, and shaped the world in a way to safeguarding the integrity and the growth of the living races which at that moment risked extinction. They therefore created the Hollow World, and the spirit of Urt was transferred into the monolith situated in the Serpent Peninsula. For entire era Urt lay sleeping in this part of the globe, until the arrival of the Karimari and of their animist philosophy. In the following millennia Kereenyaga served as a receptacle for all the hopes, the desires and the fears of the Karimari, and most of them believe that their land is alive, Kereenyaga grew more, until Urt was reawakened and paying heed to their invocations created Ulimwengu. Even though technically it isn’t an Immortal, Kereenyaga nevertheless acts as the protector of an entire people thanks to the faith that they have in the land in which they have lived since the dawn of time.
The Rock of Mystery has turned into an artefact created by the Karimari people in order to protect themselves and Ulimwengu. The greatest of its powers naturally is that of hiding Ulimwengu from indiscreet eyes. It constantly projects an illusionary land over all the nation, making it appear from above as a confused ensemble of jungles, streams and hills without any settlements. This naturally hides the Karimari civilisation from anyone that finds themselves above the level of the trees, even if anyone crossing the forests normally isn’t subject to the illusion. Furthermore Kereenyaga also prevents any attempt of magical divination on the area, causing any attempt to view the region to see the same illusion that they would see from flying overhead. The Rock finally, beyond giving the druids their divine powers, has a final characteristic: to all those considered friendly in the struggles of Ulimwengu (certainly all the Karimari) conferring a constant blessing that grants a +1 bonus to all the attack and damage rolls and to Saving Throws. To the contrary, the enemies of Ulimwengu suffer a –1 penalty to the same rolls listed above (the curse isn’t in any way removable while the enemy remains within the perimeter of the Guardian Trees).