Friday, October 21, 2011

Gods of Galbaruc: Seppophis the Huntress

I posted this to Gorgonmilk's blog a little while ago, and thought I'd put it up here, along with a sketch. At this stage, Galbaruc is less a coherent, codified setting than a dumping ground for stray D&D ideas, but its slowly taking shape as its own thing.

I have a rough idea of that the city-state looks like, some of its institutions, even the way people dress, but there's no map yet, and not much of a detailed history. It was originally a mercantile and naval hub of a now-extinct empire. Like Haiti, it was born out of a slave revolt, the uprising swiftly joined by those aristocrats who saw where the tide was turning and switched sides while they still could. The fact that their descendants still retain a considerable amount of power and influence in the modern Republic is galling to some, but too much harping on this point is generally seen to be in bad taste. As a result of its origins, slavery per se is absolutely forbidden in Galbaruc and its territories, though there is an elaborately detailed system of indentured servitude.

Anyway, that's about all I've decided on for the history of the city-state. Future posts will deal with imported religions such as the Cults of Urizen and Orc, monsters, electoral fraud, coffeehouses, the Island Princes, piracy, drugs, conspiracies, the variability of goblins, and the cursed bloodlines of the Struldbrugs.

I talked about one local goddess (and one of her festivals) here. Here's another:

Seppophis the Huntress, Mistress of Snares and Entanglements. NE.

Usually depicted with the body of a nubile dancing girl holding aloft a length of rope and a dripping, barbed javelin. In place of her head is a mass of long spider's legs, extending in an irregular nimbus past her shoulders. She is the patroness of all who earn their living by pursuit and evasion, by enticement and sudden surprises. Thieves and other scofflaws on the run attempt to propitiate her with substitute sacrifices (she is believed to be partial to trapped, but uninjured flies) while watchmen, bounty-hunters and and frustrated revengers hope to secure her blessing as they pursue their quarry. Brigands and pirates offer prayers and sacrifices for wealthy, unguarded victims. Prostitutes, jewelers, and perfumers give her reverence, as do all manner of mountebanks and swindlers.

Every year, in Galbaruc, an elaborate ceremony takes place on the Street of Crushed Petals in which a fantastically costumed and masked troupe of stolid, upright citizens and officials representing Law square off against their opposite number, representing Chaos. Through a series of competitive dances, recitations, songs, and feats of strength and cunning, two opposing champions are chosen -- suitors to the goddess, and these are led in a winding parade to the outskirts of the city, to the cave believed to be the entrance to Seppophis' lair. Both champions enter the cave, though only one will emerge in the morning, maddened and screaming. The other has been taken as the Consort of Seppophis, and is never seen again. His faction will enjoy a bonus to all activities relating to their trade for the remainder of the year.

When Seppophis deigns to take human form, it is either in the guise of a slim, dark-haired girl, smelling faintly of cloves and cinnamon, or of a gaunt, silver-haired matriarch of no known family line. She is attracted to scenes of intrigue and hopeless entrapment.