Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Totems: Bull, Part V

Bull Divinities & Folk Variations

Characters can select various bull totem abilities, spells, side-effects, and totem tests to replace ones they would normally have, reflecting how the bull can confer its mighty power. Select or roll 1d8.

1. Greek & Minoan: Those who follow Poseidon often respect the bull's potency, physical strength, and fittingness for curses, with bull sacrifices and even minotaurs sometimes being the result. Other Greeks who call Hercules or Theseus their heroic patron instead seek to wrestle or slay the mighty bull, ironically using such tauric power to do so. Still, devotees of the Minoan Potnia focus more on the bull's majestic, civilized form, and are famous for being bull-leapers and shapechangers, if not minotaurs themselves.

2. Roman & Etruscan: Mithra's devotees also see the bull as something to be overcome; it's blood grants strength via the Taurobolium, which is commonplace in their rites. The followers of Fufluns instead take a view akin to those of Potnia- the bull is a beautiful, mighty form, worthy of nurturing, even upon a human mother's breast. Though being a more neutral Etruscan version of Dionysus, Fufluns can also grant the very dangerous bull rages and darker, chthonic power. 

3. Celtic: The 3-Horned, Gallic Tarvos Trigaranus befits his followers specifically with horned and charging attack abilities and spells. He may otherwise be treated as a deified bull totem, and thus druids can harness his power, Other Celts see the bull more as an aspect of Cernunnos, replete with cattle raids and the brown bull (Donn CĂșailnge) and the white bull (Finnbhennach) fighting. In either case, wrapping oneself in a bull hide and even partaking of beef is a preeminent method of their divination (Tarbhfhess).

4. Norse: The Uruz Rune is a mighty and key point of bull access. As aurochs, it can be used by the followers of a number of Norse gods, granting great size and strength in the case of Thor, Magni, Vidarr, and others. To a lesser extent the Fehu rune does so too, though more in the fertility and providing aspect of cattle, and would correspond well with the followers of Freyr. 

4. Mesopotamian: Commonly shown amongst the Sumerian and Babylonian divinities, the bull can manifest as hybridizations or monsters with the followers of Enlil (horns), Ishtar (Gugalanna), Marduk (hooves), Nanna (bull lammasu), and Tiamat (kusarikku). They thus tend towards the mutagenic and summoning aspects of the totem.

5. Egyptian & Colchian: The Egyptians have somewhat less of a demonstration of the bull, with Apis being a manifestation of the totem itself mixed with a sacred adoration of the golden calf. Other divinities might access its horns and fertility as Hathor does. In Colchis, land of the Golden Fleece, the Khalkotauroi are followed as bronze, fire-breathing bulls and their devotees draw on many aggressive and tough bull totem abilities. Some strangely call these beasts "gorgons'.
6.  Slavic & Yamnayan: Notably Chernobog (via the Cherno-bull), can have a few bull totem features added in to bring about even greater woe, though other Slavic divinities can do so too for more noble purposes. The Sacred Bull of the Indo-European Yamnaya of course predates many of the cultures above, and can not only be called upon for great strength, but also the ability to consume milk with ease- a trait of great potential advantage to size and strength when on the move.

7. Baphomet & Minotaurs: Darker aspects of the bull manifest in Baphomet the demon lord. Along with warpings of their body, its cultists bring out the worst in the totem, notably hyper-aggression, overwhelming obstinance, belittling of others, and destruction. Minotaurs themselves reflect this savagery too, though with the proper guidance from Poseidon, Potnia, or some of the other divinities above, can harness their taurine power for more meaningful pursuits.

Next week: our series on Totems continues with the Horse!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Totems: Bull, Part IV

Shamans and other cleric-types who call upon the bull gain access to certain spells. Otherwise, they follow the guidelines of totemic magic (link). 

1st Level Spells (d5)
1. Bovine Protection: as Protection from Evil, but only works in grazing areas.
2. Bull Companion: as Animal Companion (D), but must be a single bull.
3. Charge Light Wounds: as Cure Light Wounds, but the recipient must be holding horns or something else that's dangerous.
4. Lesser Bull Strength: as Strength*, but confers only 1/2 the bonus, and is applied to the recipient's Constitution too.
5. Raging Bull: as Remove Fear (reversible), but only if the shaman is charging.

2nd Level Spells (d6)
1. Bull Hide: as Barkskin (D), but  only works on those who follow the ways of the bull.
2. Bull Strength: as Strength*, but the bonus is also applied to the recipient's Constitution too.
3. Pasture Growth: as Plant Growth (D), but only affects grasses, making them more fertile and produce more food.
4. Phantom Bull
: as Spiritual Weapon, but with a +2 damage bonus and appears as a spirit bull that can keep attacking even if the shaman doesn't concentrate. It also has a 50% chance of charging a random individual each round though.
5. Speak with Bullsas Speak with Animals, but only works with bull-kind.
6. Taurus Blessingas Bless, but grants a +3 bonus to hit and to damage to allies who are charging instead, in addition to any other bonuses they'd gain for charging.

3rd Level Spells
1. Aurochs Form: as Animal Growth, but just works on bull-kind.
2. Bovine Protection 10' Radius: as Protection from Evil 10' Radius, but only works in grazing areas.
3. Bull Cure
: as Cure Disease, but makes the recipient aggressive and bullish for the next 1d6 turns too. 
4. Bull Goring: as Striking, but grants the recipient bull horns for the duration instead, allowing them to make an additional attack each round for 1d6 + 1/2 Strength mod damage, double if charging.
5. Bullskin Magic: as Polymorph Self or Other*, but can only take on or grant the form of a bull or other bovine creature.
6. Greater Bull Strength: as Strength*, but has a +2 bonus, along with no limit of 18.

4th Level Spells (d6)
1. Seeing Red: as Haste*, but but must be used at least as part of attacks.
2. Bull Call: as Summon Animal I (D), but just summons bulls. 
3. Bull's Exorcism: as Exorcism, but only works on non-bull type spirits.
4. Charge Serious Wounds: as Cure Serious Wounds, but the recipient must be holding horns or some other weapon.
5. Massive Bull Strengthas Greater Bull Strength, above, but the bonuses are +2d3.
6. Bull Fertile: increases the next chance of a female within 30' to conceive and successfully give birth by 100%.

5th Level Spells (d5)
1. Bull Communion: as Commune with Nature (D), but only works in areas where bulls inhabit.
2. Rush Evil: as Dispel Evil, but can only be used either before or after charging the targets.
3. Charge Critical Wounds: as Cure Critical Wounds, but the recipient must be holding horns or something else that's dangerous.
4. Greater Bull Call: as Summon Monster III*, but either summons a minotaur or a 6 HD bull gorgon with 3 rounds less duration in the latter case.
5. Greater Bullskin Magic: as Polymorph Self or Other*, but can just take on or grant the form of a minotaur or a 6 HD bull gorgon with 3 rounds less duration in the latter case.

6th Level Spells (d3)
1. Horn Onslaught: as Blade Barrier, but appears as horns, does 3d8 less damage, and can be moved 30 feet each round, harming all in the way.
2. Bovine Realm: as Plane Shift, but only transports to and from places dominated by bulls and bovine-beings.
3. Bull Maze: as Maze, but bull-types are immune and those so trapped must save vs. death/ make a Will save DC 10 every 1d6 rounds or take 4d6 damage from the resident minotaur.

Next week: Totems: Bull, Part V! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Totems: Bull, Part III

Totem Tests
1-9. The bull grabs the totemist by the horns. Direct to the end, he must immediately act in a certain, aggressive way. Preferred targets are those wearing red. The totemist must save vs. death/ make a Will save DC 10 or continue to attack each following round. Roll 1d6.
[1-2] Charge the nearest individual in a random direction.
[3] Trample and buck furiously at anyone who is within 2d6' of him. All within range must save vs. paralysis/ make a Reflex save DC 15 or take 1d6 damage.
[4] Show dominance over another, typically via mounting.
[5] Attack the next fallen foe for at least 1d3 additional rounds.
[6] Reroll 1d5 twice. The totemist must do both.

10-13. Bullishness overcomes the totemist, potentially causing him to behave in one of the ways above (results #1-9) for the next 7d4 days whenever he's aggravated. Unlike those results, he may at least temporarily resist the urge by saving vs. spell/ making a Will save DC 15. Still, if the same result is experienced twice in a row for this test, it becomes permanent rather than taking just 7d4 days, and he will have to save whenever he's pressured from now on.

14-16. The totemist becomes more bull-like, gaining some trait along with a cumulative 15% chance of causing fear and/or revulsion in types who don't appreciate such things. When others are triggered by his bull trait, then the totemist also has the same chance of undergoing results #1-9 above as he becomes infuriated too. In any case, roll 1d6 below to see which is bestowed, rerolling if the same is rolled more than once, making the totemist increasingly become a bull hybrid.
[1] Bull's Head: gain a gore attack for 2d6 + STR mod damage, doubled on a charge, along with a +4 bonus to hearing and smelling checks, and the same to ignore mental influence, whether magical or otherwise.
[2] Bull's Horns: gain a gore attack for 1d6+ STR mod damage, doubled on a charge. The d6 damage can be added to other forms of gore attack the totemist might have, thus he would do 3d6 + STR mod damage when combined with Bull's Head. 
[3] Bull Hooves: gain +10' speed, the ability to knock foes prone on a successful charge attack (by making an opposed STR check), and the ability to make a trample attack against foes that are prone or smaller than him for 1d6 + 1/2 STR mod damage each round. Totemists who get this result twice can opt to have hooves on their hands too, thereby doubling all the bonuses, but making it impossible for them to hold anything.
[4] Bull Hide: gain a +3 AC bonus.
[5] Bull Sack: gain an impressive, triple chance of conceiving his offspring with a compatible mate, or at least pleasing her no matter what.
[6] Bull Tail: can smell the presence of potential mates within 1/4 mile, as long as he's taking his time. He also gains a +4 bonus to resist being pushed or knocked over, which should help too.

17+ The totem isn't taking any more of the totemist's bull. For the next 4d6 hours, plus 4d6 additional hours per totem test result over 17, he experiences one of the following tests. Roll 1d4.
[1] The totemist is turned into a minotaur of equal HD or higher, raging at his primal urges. See also (link) for more Minotaur variations.
[2] The totemist  is turned into an actual bull, though for 4d6 weeks instead.
[3] A group of 2d12 large bulls (HD 4) rush about, causing all to go running when they come by. The area affected starts where the test occurs and stretches in a roughly 1d4 x 10' wide line for 1/4 mile per the totem test result (thus 4 1/4 miles for 17, 4 1/2 miles for 18, etc.)
[4] A Khalkotaur (bull 'gorgon') is summoned. It has a HD equal to the totem test result and attempts to gore and trample the totemist and his comrades to death, not to mention using its petrifying or fiery breath weapon too. It arrives within half the time remaining of the test's duration. It will then attack until either slain or the test's duration expires. 

Next week: Totems: Bull, Part IV!