Through various common rites and grand rituals, the Grellken give worship to the Oana: divine beings birthed by Wyrm the All-Mother. Not merely divinities worthy of devotion, the Oana are also predators that prey upon their worshippers and fight amongst each other. The Grellken are born to a life of war and hardship, but their afterlife is little better.
Creation Myth: When the World Serpent’s coils became still, the world was made. And just as the Races of the world sprung from the flesh and the mind of the All-Mother, Her Children, the Oana were tasked to protect the world birthed from her death.
But the Oana were born with the power of the All-Mother and with her unstoppable will. When they disagreed, the heavens shook to the waging of their wars. Each had in their mind, the true way to defend the world and they brooked no argument from one another. And while they fought a demonic threat loomed across Midworld.
This new menace called themselves the Shetani and they warped where they trod. Even Oana fell against this new evil, twisting and turning against their brethren with eldritch power. After the flurry of the first invasion, only the greatest Oana remained standing and uncorrupted:
Elegba the Opener, who showed the first Trolls the paths of magic.
Oyala the Tempest, who threw down disaster and rain from the skies..
Samad the Judge, who saw the end of all that lived.
Ansi the Thief, who told stories and sang songs to the first Trolls.
and Obtal the Bulwark, who moved the world according to the All-Mother’s design.
When the Oana had the true measure of their enemy, they waged glorious battle upon the Shetani. The blood of Shetani dripped like rivers from the Oana’s fangs and the Shetani died in droves, slithering back into the holes where they came from.
At the war’s end, the Oana decided to continue to fight against one another. They swore to keep their fangs sharp and fierce… until the demons come again.
But the Oana knew that the Shetani would return the stronger, so they looked to Midworld in search of the greatest of weapons and the finest of armies. After many calamities and cataclysms, they chose the Race of Trolls as the greatest and toughest of the All-Mother’s children. Undeterred by loss of limb or searing pain, Trolls would be the perfect counter to the Shetani, when tempered to the keenest edge.
And so they taught the Trolls war and battle, magic and words. Some took this knowledge and sought their own path. Others, the greatest of their kind, saw what the Oana had given them and created their own methods and tactics of war.
As the Oana predicted, the Shetani would come again — but the Trolls were ready. And where thousands of the other Races perished against the demonic tide, the Trolls only flourished withstanding even the Shetani’s corruptive touch.
And so the Oana watch over the Trolls of the Grellken, mightiest of the world’s warriors, and in the end of times: the greatest weapons of the Oana.
Afterlife: The Grellken believe all Oana awaits each and every Grellken’s demise. When Samad deems it a Grellken’s time, they set upon the Mortal’s soul and rip it from Midworld’s grasp.
Great warriors or those who fall to disaster are often found by Oyala the Tempest.
Those who live honorably or sacrifice for their kin are taken by Obtal the Bulwark.
Magic-users, Alchemists and Scholars belong to Elegba, the Opener of the Way.
Ansi seeks out those the cunning and the entertaining to bring them to her web.
All others fall within the domain of Samad the Judge, especially so those who fall by poison, plague and starvation.
As one can expect, many times a Mortal’s soul might fall to the domains of two or more Oana — it is then believed that the Oana battle one another for their right to possess it. Those who have attracted the goodwill of the Oana are blessed, for they will fight at the Oana’s side when the Oana goes to war against its brethren or the Shetani.
Those who have no Oana’s goodwill or Samad’s hatred will be thrown into the Underworld, where they will be torn apart and consumed by Shetani. Cowards and oathbreakers are especially despised by Samad and other Oana, although those that make Mad Ansi laugh might be saved by her.
View of Magic: The Mystery of the Opener teaches the Grellken that Elegba was the one who taught magic to the Trolls. He showed Trolls how to invoke the power of the Oana through shamanic masks and holy words. It was Elegba that allowed Totem and Spirit to be harnessed by his students. And finally, Elegba unlocked the dark arts of sorcery to the Mortal Races, allowing them to tap into eldritch powers at their own risk.
For most other Grellken however, magic is something to beware, that it exacts its own prices on everyone that uses it. They see the Adept speaking to himself, the Witch touched by the elements and even the Priest, bound by their Oana — and they fear the costs of spellcraft. They regard magic-users with caution and ready blades. This is so especially in times of battle, where Grellken slay the healers and the spellcasters of the enemy first.
The Priests of the Oana
The faiths of the Grellken are called Mysteries, for their truest nature is known only by their Priests. To the Grellken, being a Priest not only requires ordination by a fellow Priest (or very rarely, direct divine intervention) but also acting/dressing in ways that channel or emulate their divine patron. Similarly, when Priests cast spells, they do so by channeling their Oana through them. Grellken rituals are typically performed with a large shamanic mask — allowing the Priest to formally channel their patron’s magic into the ritual. Thus, while Priests of other faiths channel magic into their spells, Priests of Oana actually act like their Gods to receive their powers — some even claim that they are ridden or possessed by their Gods on rare occasions.
That said, the Priests of the Grellken are not heavily organized. Within each Clan is a small group of a Oana’s Priests, with a leader (usually the most senior member) called a “Kor”. A particular Clan might have multiple Kor, each for a specific Oana.
When authority is in question (e.g. between two Priests from different Clans), then a contest usually ensues — dependent on the Mystery they serve. Oftentimes this might be a test of might, a non-lethal duel or even a contest of magical power. Also common are stranger competitions, such as a storytelling or musical duel (Ansi/Elegba), a feasting/drinking contest (Oyala/Obtal), games of chance (Samad/Ansi) or a bragging competition (Elegba/Obtal).
A Priest addressing their superior (or their peer if they are unsure) adds “Atha” as a prefix to their name. A Priest addressing their inferior may choose to add “Boun” or “Bouno” as a prefix to their name, although formally does not necessitate this. Kor are always addressed as such or with Kor as a prefix to their name.
Mystery of the Opener
“The way is opened, now good and evil shall enter and pass this world”
Elegba is known as the Opener or the Bright One. He is the flame that the Grellken must strain to understand. Magic is his domain, both the goodly magics of healing and the fell magics of sorcery. Invention and craftsmanship is also considered to be his gifts to Trollkind: through him, alchemy was discovered and fire was harnessed to create stronger arms and armor. The greatest gift attributed to Elegba is that of writing — although the original scripts given to the Trolls were lost long ago: the Grellken are forced to make do with confusing Wyrd-spiel.
Most stories of Elegba involve him giving gifts to a Mortal. Sometimes however, the gift is cursed — such as the power to make pacts with Demons through Diablerie. Most of the time, Elegba’s gifts are mixed blessings, with both good and bad effects. Bright Elegba himself is always busy, always keeping the sun burning bright in the sky. He is the perfectionist and the genius inventor, the delver into darkness and the tester of the worthy.
In the paintings and carvings of the Grellken, Elegba is usually portrayed as a graceful Ibis, a patient Tortoise or a blazing Phoenix. In Troll form, he can be identified by his staff or by his majestic halo.
- Craft, spell and words — these are the gifts of Elegba: give them the respect they deserve and burn those who mistreat Elegba’s blessings.
- Bright Elegba is willing to teach and give to all: so too must you open the way for others, but only if they are worthy. The unworthy can burn if they fail to prove themselves.
- Seek out new ways as Elegba would have you do: prove yourself worthy and carve your own path in the world!
Symbol and Colors: Orange, dark grey and brown — the colors of flame, ash and wood are the colors of Elegba. His symbol is of an open flame wreathed in smoke. His Priests are oftentimes covered in soot from their own crafts, although they adorn their garments and shamanic masks with pieces of scrap metal (never sharp) or colored glass to represent their Gods’ own tendencies of craftsmanship.
Spells: The Divine spells of Bright Elegba’s Priests strike for fire-type damage.
Sphere Access: Priests of Elegba may choose one of these Spheres for the Acolyte of Faith ability they gain at first level. Furthermore, they may learn the Servitor skill for the other listed Spheres.
Within their Clans, the clergy of Elegba, the Elegbani, are usually found at work: repairing, crafting and inventing. Occasionally, they will be praying over the Clan’s movable forge or their personal laboratory. The Grellken Weave armor augment was created by one such Priest. Because of their affinities, the Elegbani are often consulted by Braves and even Chieftain-Generals in matters that involve metalwork and alchemy (in addition to their own expertise in magical affairs). The act of creating is a holy matter to Bright Elegba, so his Priests often make such affairs ceremonial and ritualistic, offering sacrifice and prayer to their God while crafting.
Their aptitude in many knowledges also allows the Elegbani to act as teachers and mentors to the rest of the Clan. Rituals and traditions are a matter of great importance to the Elegbani, although they usually busy themselves in the practical aspects of their lore — they often leave stories and songs to the Ansali.
The Elegbani rarely reach renown in warrior-centric Grellken. Those that do however, are either extremely talented or find their reputation through the battle-application of their craft. The Firerunner Clan for example, produces many talented Elegbani — at its heart is Wretched Vazut, an honored teacher of the Clan and keeper of its hundreds of recipes and ciphers. As hateful and volatile as his forge, Vazut is second only to the Chieftain-General in his ingenuity and skill in the alchemical arts.
On the other hand, the Longhorn Clan has a famous armorsmith in the ranks of its Elegbani: Zikil Longhorn, who boasts of the largest portable forge in all of the Mercenary Clans. Six oxen pull Zikil’s forge, which is only brought along because of the quality of the smith’s work — the Longhorn’s braves sport plates and scales that suit their patient and ponderous tactics.
The Mystery of the Tempest
“I am the Storm. Anger me and my unceasing vengeance will rain down upon you and everyone you love”
Oyala is sometimes called the Tempest, the Unstoppable One or simply Wicked Oyala. To the Grellken, she is the warcries of the warrior and blood upon the battlefield. Oyala is also the storm and the earthquake, the fury of the volcano and the death-cold of the blizzard. Except for her twin Obtal, she is the most worshipped by the Grellken for they seek to emulate her unstoppable might in battle. Those who have achieved supremacy in war through strength of arms are said to have the Wicked One’s breath.
Stories told of Wicked Oyala usually end in her leaping into battle and feasting upon the remains of her strongest enemy. She has fed upon the strongest of foes, both Shetani Lords, Dragons and even other Oana that have crossed her path. Her greatest triumph was against Golrog the Glutton, a Shetani Lord whom she battled for three days before she tore him into shreds and chewed upon his four hearts.
Oyala is often depicted as a rampaging Dragon, a feral Tiger or a screaming Eagle. When depicted as a Troll, she is recognized for carrying at least 2 spears or for being in mid-leap upon a foeman with a lightning bolt in hand.
- Leave no battle unfinished, leave no enemy unbroken
- Gain strength through training, hardship and feasting; let nothing hinder your progress.
- Pay blood sacrifice in Mortals or Beasts to Oyala who grants you the strength to fight.
Symbol and Colors: Oyala’s symbol is of a down-cast spear, marked by blue and white feathers. Her Priests will often adorn their weapons, armor and shamanic masks with blue and white feathers
Spells: The Divine spells of Oyala’s Priests strike for lightning-type damage.
Sphere Access: Priests of Oyala may choose one of these Spheres for the Acolyte of Faith ability they gain at first level. Furthermore, they may learn the Servitor skill for the other listed Spheres.
The Priests of Wicked Oyala name themselves after her: the Oyalai. They are often seen leading armies in pre-battle sacrifices and post-battle feasts. In the thick of combat, they are just as often seen in the vanguard as they are in the backlines. More than the other Oana, Oyala demands that her Priesthood partake in the clangor of battle. Many take up the spear, but using such a weapon is not required — blood is the only requirement to receive the Tempest’s sanction.
Outside of battle, Priests of Oyala (Oyalai) are usually involved in the blessing of food or the ritualistic devouring of captive sacrifices. Her Priests also invoke her favor and forbearance during storms, earthquakes and other calamities. Just as Oyala brings rain upon the Grellken, so too do her Priests produce brews for their warriors — to strengthen them in battle and to improve morale after combat.
The Oyalai have two great personages in their ranks: Draka Bloodscreamer and Eza the Cudgel. The former is the Chieftain-General of the Bloodscreamer Clan, practically Wicked Oyala herself in the flesh. She is also the wielder of Grellken’s Fang, a spear holy to the Oyalai.
Eza the Cudgel is a wandering Clanless Priest who travels among Clans to challenge and defeat all Oyalai he meets, usually with a brutal thrashing of his ungainly club. From each Troll and Minotaur Eza defeats, he demands a finger and a favor — he has thus far created a long chain of finger-bones that hangs from his neck.
The Mystery of the Judge
“I smile not because you die but because I know how”
Most feared by the Grellken is Samad, called the Judge, Cold Samad and the Grinning One. Said to be the oldest of the Oana, Samad is the God of Death to the Grellken. Famine, Disease and Ill Fortune are also his domains. When tragedy strikes a Grellken, they sacrifice to Samad and hope for his mercy.
Unlike other Death Gods, Samad likes to carouse and debauch almost as much as Ansi does. He and his Priests are shameless flirts, hopeless drunks and reckless gamblers. Grinning Samad is called such because he is often seen with a smile — however, that expression is skull-like in its emptiness of mirth. The Oana likes to indulge because he is apathetic to his own fate, just as he is uncaring of the fates of most souls. Many of Cold Samad’s stories involve Grellken in their final moments, appealing to his love of gambling — yet the cards and the dice are always in the Grinning God’s favor. At best, Samad can be delayed or distracted, but he always comes for his prey.
Sometimes, he is portrayed as a perched vulture, a stalking panther or a scorpion ready to strike. When depicted as a Troll, he is known for his black and white-feathered headdress or drinking cup — but most telling is his unnerving, fanged smile.
- Be like Grinning Samad: Drink deep of the cup of life — indulge in the vices of the flesh.
- Just as Samad takes the souls of the dead, so too must you tend to what remains of their flesh or that which has no soul.
- Death is always watching you; do not fear its arrival, simply embrace it with open arms unless Samad needs you to complete a certain task.
Symbols and Colors: The symbol of Samad is four eyes looking downward, his Priests adorn their garments or shamanic masks with eyes, representing his ever-presence and vigilance. Black and white are the colors of his Priesthood. Sometimes, Samad’s priesthood paint their faces with black and white in a manner that resembles a fanged troll skull.
Spells: The Divine spells of Samad’s Priests strike for ice-type damage.
Sphere Access: Priests of Samad may choose one of these Spheres for the Acolyte of Faith ability they gain at first level. Furthermore, they may learn the Servitor skill for the other listed Spheres.
Sometimes called Samadi, the Priests of Samad are usually known for their role in Grellken funerary rites (including grave-digging), inquisitors and as healers of diseases and curses. During times of famine or plague, these Priests lead cleansing ceremonies to cure the Clan of its ill fortune and ward away the Oana’s disfavor. In a Clan, Samadi are usually given a wide berth because of their association with the feared Oana and because they tend to be extremely crude. This usually means that Samadi fit in with outlier members of a Mercenary Clan, such as the scouts and the hunters.
Notable Samadi include Pale Gruul, leader of the White-Mamba Clan, and Tilaka the Tender, Kor Samadi of the Laughing-tree Clan. Gruul is not only a Samadi but also a Necromancer of fell power, having combined both disciplines to a darksome whole.
Tilaka is the leader of her Clan’s Samadi and an exceptionally skilled poisoner. Furthermore, her personal wagon is host to a several dozen rare potted plants, each carefully coaxed to produce the poisonous substances that give her so much infamy.
The Mystery of the Thief
“When Ansi stole the sun, her Mother Wyrm was greatly wroth with her. So she gave it back, but only after taking a portion of it herself and setting that shard aglow against the night sky. Why? No one knew, not even Ansi herself”
Ansi, known also as the Thief, Mad Ansi or Laughing Ansi, has a mixed following within the Grellken. Among the Oana, she is both cursed and praised, both feared and adored.
In her stories, Ansi makes fools of other Oana, Mortal victims or even herself. These tales usually involve Ansi attempting to steal something beneath its owner’s nose or trick others into doing her assigned tasks. She is usually caught and punished for her laziness or disloyalty in the latter stories.
Mad Ansi is also associated with love (not marriage), joy and other emotions. Those who have fallen in love or have been overwhelmed by insanity are said to have been struck by Ansi’s arrow. As such, the bow is holy to her Priests, as is the net and the snare which common tools in her employ.
Ansi is often depicted as a scheming spider in a web, a flying crow with a bauble or a laughing monkey among trees. When depicted as a Troll, she is usually holding a Grellken fiddle (Goje) or a bow and two arrows.
- Ansi loves stories and songs: gather them and spread them like a web across Midworld.
- Ansi hates to be bored: play games, sing songs, eat feasts and entertain her well or she will make you a fool.
- Ansi demands sacrifice: a new song, a clever joke, a funny prank or a shiny bauble — she must be given sacrifice daily.
Symbols and Colors: Ansi’s symbol is a white ring over violet or dark blue, symbolizing an eclipse (or when Mad Ansi “borrows” the sun and the rest of the Oana have to hunt her down). Sometimes, this symbol is a white spider. Her Priests adorn themselves and their shamanic masks with netting, webbing and/or shiny baubles.
Spells: The Divine spells of Mad Ansi’s Priests strike for shadow-type damage.
Sphere Access: Priests of Ansi may choose one of these Spheres for the Acolyte of Faith ability they gain at first level. Furthermore, they may learn the Servitor skill for the other listed Spheres.
The Priests of Laughing Ansi call themselves the Ansali, the tellers of tales and the singers of songs. Within a Clan, the Ansali make themselves useful by not just holding the stories of the Clan’s victories, but also its defeats and the little moments within the Clan’s history. Even the most volatile Grellken warrior must take care not to offend such a Priest, lest their legacy be of how they fell into the river while urinating in the dark rather than a celebration of their greatest triumph. Minor pranks played by Ansali are also tolerated for the same reason, in addition to their divine patron.
Because of their love of new stories and songs, Ansali sometimes find themselves as messengers or ambassadors between Clans. Those sent outside of the Grellken Clans usually conduct themselves more gracefully with their “sacrifices” done in a clandestine manner.
With their divine abilities, Ansali also can thrive as scouts or spies. However, popular opinion is against sending a Priest to such a dangerous task — mainly because of the belief that they would take unnecessary risks to please their Oana.
On account of their propensity for stories and daring, Ansali often have great deeds or talents to their name. Most famous of the modern Ansali are Grengrak the Peddler and the Minotaur only known as the Eye-thief.
Grengrak the Peddler is a Troll from the Firerunner Clan known for his depthless capacity for stories and his overabundance of trinkets. It is said that if something exists, Grengrak has a story with it… or is willing to give away a precious treasure in exchange for such a tale.
The Eye-thief, on the other hand, is a fearsome killer from the White-mamba Clan and the Kor for the Ansali of that Clan. As her name suggests, the Eye-thief is only known for her signature — the collecting of eyes from her victims. She is hated and feared by her Ansali brethren although no one has yet to bring her to justice.
Mystery of the Bulwark
“Blood and honor — for those two do we fight, with those two do we win ”
Obtal is also known as the Bulwark, though Sturdy Obtal and Kind Obtal are also names familiar to his Priesthood. This Oana takes honor, protection and tradition as his domains. He is the most like his mother; Grellken revere him for his honest, steadfast nature and his leadership skills. His twin, Oyala, is the spear that impales the enemy but Kind Obtal is the shield that protects the Clan.
Stories of Obtal involve him lending his protection to an ailing Mortal or attempting to uphold an Oath that he had sworn, whether in haste or in clarity. Obtal himself is said to be kind yet disciplined, powerful yet precise. He would sacrifice himself to protect his brethren and follow orders to the letter — the perfect soldier.
When depicted in carving or paint, he is the steadfast Ox, the watchful Owl and the loyal Hound. Portrayed as a Troll, Obtal can be identified by his gigantic colorful shield or his white clothing.
- Protect the Grellken Race from harm by any means, be it through word or force.
- Hold true to all oaths or Obtal himself will strike you down.
- Never surrender, never give up — Obtal has granted you his divine resilience.
Symbol and Colors: Pure white, earthen brown, verdant green are colors associated with Kind Obtal who has taken a brown bull’s head over white as his symbol. His Priests usually adorn their garments and shamanic masks with white cloth and twigs.
Spells: The Divine spells of Kind Obtal’s Priests strike for Silver-type damage.
Sphere Access: Priests of Obtal may choose one of these Spheres for the Acolyte of Faith ability they gain at first level. Furthermore, they may learn the Servitor skill for the other listed Spheres.
The Priests of Obtal, the Obtalai, are the fierce protectors of their Chosen. Their shields shelter the Grellken from harm and their spells mend the wounds of the injured. Many Obtalai are learned in the arts of the Physic, to better cure the hurts of their Chosen. Because they are so beloved and because tradition is their domain, Obtalai oversee births, initiations, oaths and similar ceremonies (rituals formerly overseen by Elegbani).
If the Obtalai have a weakness, it is their attitude toward their oaths and their protectiveness over the Grellken. These Priests would rather die than betray their oaths and many are sworn to help all Grellken, even in times of inter-Clan warfare. This means that they are more often used in roles of defense or support rather than assault, which suits the Oyalai just fine.
The Obtalai have several persons of note in their roster, among them is Urga the Nameless and Argosh Rockstomper, Chieftain-General of the Rockstomper Clan. The former is a Clanless healer who is tirelessly trying to unite the Clans of the Grellken, although she has met with opposition and near-death at every front.
Argosh Rockstomper is the leader of his own Clan, which is both renowned and mocked for their attempts to maintain the core ethos of Obtal. While the Rockstompers do not lack in strength, the codes of the Obtalai sometimes drive them away from well-paying but less than honest work.